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December job news disappointing

Healthcare loses jobs in December and the monthly average for 2013 lags 2012's

December brought jobs disappointments all around – including in healthcare – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly employment outlook, released Friday morning.

Some economists had predicted the December jobs report would show the country had added about 200,000 jobs last month, but the report showed only an addition of 74,000 jobs.

[See also: Healthcare jobs rebound]

Healthcare, which had seen a rise in November, lost 6,000 jobs in December. Largest losses occurred in ambulatory healthcare services (-4,100) and home healthcare services (-3,700). Only outpatient care centers and nursing and residential care facilities had gains (3,600 and 500, respectively).

Over the course of the year, healthcare averaged 17,000 job gains per month, down from a monthly average of 27,000 in 2012.

The retail industry had the strongest December, adding 55,000 jobs, with the bulk of those gains going to food and beverage stores and clothing and accessories stores.

Wholesale trade, adding 15,000 jobs, and professional and business services, adding 19,000 jobs, were the two other sectors with the most gains in December.

Jobs in the information and construction sectors had losses of 12,000 and 16,000, respectively. BLS speculated that the loss of 13,000 jobs in December in the nonresidential trade specialty contractors sector may have been due to the extremely cold weather.

Overall, the economy averaged 182,000 job gains per month in 2013, not much different from 2012, which averaged 183,000 job gains per month.

BLS noted that November was an even stronger month than originally reported. It revised that month's numbers from a gain of 203,000 to one 241,000.