NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- As economists and investors reel from a surprisingly weak jobs number, there are 3,300 people that may actually be cheering December's report.
That's the number of employees that were added to the federal government's payroll last month.
As job losses continued in construction, manufacturing, retail, leisure and hospitality, as well as at the state and local government level, the Federal government was one of the few areas that posted a job gain.
The federal government, excluding the U.S. Postal Service, has notched an increase in jobs for seven consecutive months bringing December's total to 2,167,000, up from 2,163,700 in November.
Alternatively, the cash-strapped Postal Service has slashed jobs, reduced overtime hours and proposed scrapping its Saturday delivery to cut costs but remains mired in debt.
Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, attributes the modest increase in jobs with the federal government to the number of stimulus programs and packages aimed at fighting the recession along with ramped up efforts directed at the war in Afghanistan, which has had positive implications for employment at the Pentagon and in other areas of the country.
But a rise in employment as a result of those efforts is still a "dismal silver lining" to the overall jobs picture, cautioned Robert Brusca, chief economist at Fact and Opinion Economics.
"It's kind of like saying more people are dying so we have to hire more gravediggers," he said.
Overall, the Labor Department reported a loss of 85,000 jobs in December -- much worse than expected. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected no net gain or loss in payrolls in December. The economy has lost 7.2 million jobs since the start of 2008.
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