The American economy created 155,000 new jobs in December, according to the latest report from the Labor Department. The unemployment rate is 7.8 percent, the same as November.

For the entire 2012 year, the economy added about 1.8 million jobs, or 150,000 per month, meaning December's job growth was on par for the yearly average. Hurricane Sandy rebuilding seems to have helped the numbers, with construction and manufacturing seeing big gains. Health care and food services also added workers, while state and local governments shed jobs.

The economy is still struggling, though it is recovering, however slowly. The pace of job growth is ahead of population growth, but only barely.

Signals are mixed for how things will go in 2013. Some positive trends in housing, wage growth and working hours are balanced out by higher taxes resulting from Congress's recent "fiscal cliff" deal and possible large spending cuts coming in the next few months.

Twelve-point-two million people are still out of work, many long-term, which remains the biggest impediment to full economic recovery. At this pace, it would take seven years for the unemployment rate to return to its December 2007 level, the month the Great Recession officially began.

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