Steady U.S. hiring expected last month despite cliff

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Economists say hiring last month continued at a steady pace despite uncertainty over negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff.

A survey of economists by FactSet predicts that employers added 155,000 jobs in December, slightly higher than November's 148,000. The unemployment rate is projected to remain at 7.7%.

Stable hiring would mean the job market held up during the talks between Congress and the White House over tax increases and spending cuts that were not resolved until the new year.

A trio of encouraging reports Thursday on private hiring and layoffs suggested companies did not panic last month, although the Labor Department report will offer a more accurate measure of how businesses responded to the uncertainty in Washington.

Economists say hiring probably won't rise above the current 150,000 per month trend until after the borrowing limit is resolved.

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