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U.S. added strong 292K jobs last month; jobless rate at 5 pct.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — American employers added a strong 292,000 jobs in December, suggesting that the U.S. economy is so far defying global trends and growing at a solid pace.

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The Labor Department says the unemployment rate remained 5 percent for a third straight month. More Americans started looking for work, and most found jobs.

The government also said employers added a combined 50,000 more jobs in October and November than it had previously estimated. Hiring averaged 284,000 a month in the fourth quarter, the best three-month pace in a year.

The strong figures underscore the resilience of the U.S. economy at a time of global turmoil stemming from China’s slowing economy and plummeting stock market. Most economists expect solid U.S. consumer spending will offset any overseas drag, though many forecast only modest growth.

For months, U.S. employers have steadily added jobs even as global growth has flagged and financial markets have sunk. Stronger customer demand has given most businesses confidence to hire even though some sectors — notably manufacturing and oil and gas drilling — are struggling.