The nation's unemployment rate edged down to 8.5 percent — its lowest level in nearly three years — as 200,000 jobs were were added to payrolls, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported.
We'll add more details from the report shortly, so hit your "refresh" button to see our latest updates.
Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. Looking Back:
At 8.5 percent, the jobless rate is the lowest since February 2009's 8.3 percent.
Update at 8:40 a.m. ET. Where The Jobs Were.
According to BLS:
"Employment in transportation and warehousing rose sharply in December (+50,000). Almost all of the gain occurred in the couriers and messengers industry (+42,000); seasonal hiring was particularly strong in December.
"Retail trade continued to add jobs in December, with a gain of 28,000. Employment in the industry has increased by 240,000 over the past 12 months.
"Over the month, job gains continued in general merchandise stores (+13,000) and in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+11,000). ...
"In December, manufacturing employment expanded by 23,000."
All those figures are "seasonally adjusted" to hopefully account for expected changes and better reflect the underlying trends.
Update at 8:38 a.m. ET. Private Sector Employment Rose By 212,000 Last Month, 1.9 Million In 2010:
"Over the past 12 months," BLS says, "nonfarm payroll employment has risen by 1.6 million. Employment in the private sector rose by 212,000 in December and by 1.9 million over the year."
Update at 8:36 a.m. ET. Slight Revision To November Rate: BLS says the unemployment rate dipped from a revised 8.7 percent in November (earlier, BLS had said the November jobless rate was 8.6 percent).