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(MoneyNews) – The pace of hiring by U.S. employers eased slightly in December, pointing to a
lackluster pace of economic growth that was unable to make further inroads in
the country’s still high unemployment rate.

Payrolls outside the farming
sector grew 155,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. That was in
line with analysts’ expectations and slightly below the revised gain of 161,000
reported for November.

The report reinforces expectations of 2 percent
economic growth this year, unlikely to quickly bring down the unemployment rate
or make the U.S. Federal Reserve rethink its easy-money policies anytime soon
despite growing unease by some policymakers over a bond-buying
program.

“The U.S. economy is
just muddling through,” said Tom di Galoma, managing director at Navigate
Advisors in Stamford, Connecticut.

The jobless rate held steady at 7.8
percent in December, down nearly a percentage point from a year earlier but
still well…

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