Retail sales rose 0.5 percent in December from November, the Census Bureau says. That may be a sign that as 2012 ended consumers were still in a shopping mood even as lawmakers in Washington struggled to keep the federal government from going over the so-called fiscal cliff.
That's right in line with economists' expectations and is another sign of steady, though modest, growth in employment. In November, employers added an estimated 161,000 jobs. The average monthly gain in 2012 was 153,000 jobs, BLS says. That's the same average as in 2011.