Unemployment rate spikes to two-year high

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A near stagnant hiring pace during December drove the nation’s unemployment rate up to 5 percent – a two-year high.

The U.S. Labor Department said employers added the fewest jobs to their payrolls last month in more than four years. Analysts believe the employment conditions are further deteriorating because of the housing slump and credit crunch.

The unemployment rate rose from 4.7 percent during November to 5 percent last month, the highest since November 2005 after hurricanes pummeled the Gulf Coast – and along with it the national economy.