The Recovering 2012 Job Market [Infographic]

job market recovery 2012After years of cutbacks and layoffs, the nation's labor market finally appears to be on the mend. Latest monthly data from the Labor Department shows the unemployment rate inched down to 8.5 percent in December, though millions of Americans remain out of work.

Still, the report showed that job growth was widespread throughout the economy. Even the hard-hit construction sector, stung by the drop in demand for new homes, saw modest gains for the month.

Adding to the momentum are fresh economic reports this week showing applications for unemployment benefits at a four-year low, business travel on the rise and tame inflation.

"We've had fundamental improvement in the labor market in the past few months," Ellen Zentner, a senior economist at Nomura Securities International Inc., told Bloomberg.

The boost in hiring bodes well for this year's batch of college graduates.

Employers recently surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers say they plan to hire 10 percent more graduates this year than last, according to U.S. News & World Report. Recent college grads can also expect to earn higher salaries, too.

For more on the state of U.S. job market, including what college graduates can expect this spring, check out the infographic below from Course Hero, an Internet-based company that aims to help students learn more effectively.

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