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Employment Probably Picked Up at Year-End: U.S. Economy Preview

Employment probably rose for a third month in December, bringing U.S. payroll growth last year to about 1 million and pointing to further improvement in the labor market in 2011, economists said before a report this week.

A projected 140,000 gain in December payrolls is the median forecast of 61 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News before the Jan. 7 report from the Labor Department. The unemployment rate may have eased to 9.7 percent from 9.8 percent. Other reports may show faster growth at the nation’s factories and service industries last month.