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Did Hiring Pick Up As 2012 Ended? We'll Find Out Shortly

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Here it comes — the always eagerly anticipated news about jobs and the nation's unemployment rate.

What are we likely to hear at 8:30 a.m. ET when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its figures for December?

As NPR's Yuki Noguchi explained on Morning Edition, economists think BLS will say the unemployment rate held steady at 7.7 percent and that about 150,000 jobs were added to public and private payrolls. If they're right, then the jobless rate came down from 8.5 percent a year earlier and employers added about 2 million jobs in 2012.

The unemployment's recent peak came in October 2009, when it hit 10 percent.

If there is a surprise in this morning's report, it could be on the "up side." MarketWatch rounds up some of the recent signals — including Thursday's ADP National Employment that said private payrolls grew by 215,000 in December — and concludes that "the odds of a loftier employment report" than what's expected have gone up.

And better-than-expected news, MarketWatch adds, could send stocks up sharply later today. Of course, disappointing news could send stocks the other direction.

We'll update with news from the BLS report and reactions to it.

For another angle on the employment news, see Planet Money's post: "Five Years Of A Brutal Job Market, In Two Graphs."

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