Unemployment rate stays at 7.8 percent, job numbers slightly up

Rachel Rose Hartman

The U.S. unemployment rate remained largely unchanged at 7.8 percent in the month of December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly report, released on Friday morning.

The number of unemployed remained at 12.2 million, which included 4.8 million long-term unemployed. Those in that category accounted for 38.1 percent of unemployed Americans overall.

Nonfarm payroll employment grew by 155,000.

As expected, the White House sounded a positive note on Friday regarding the new statistics.

Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Alan B. Krueger, said the following in a statement:

While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007.

Krueger used Friday's numbers to highlight the recent "fiscal cliff" deal, which extended tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and extended unemployment insurance.

The White House's positive interpretation was shared by many Democrats in Washington, while Republicans highlighted the stagnant unemployment figure.

From House Speaker John Boehner:

Too many Americans are still out of work and Washington has too much debt. Our oversized and overspent federal government is a drag on economic growth and job creation, and has burdened every American with a $50,000 share of its debt, and rising. This is the year we need to work together to solve these problems. In the coming months, the House will pass real spending cuts, meaningful reforms of the entitlement programs that are driving us deeper into debt, and a fairer, cleaner tax code. These are the keys to unleashing robust job growth and securing a better future for our children.