The Labor Department will release its December hiring report this morning. Economists think the pace of hiring picked up. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires is for an increase of 175-thousand new jobs. That follows a weaker-than-expected gain of 112-thousand in November. The unemployment rate is seen unchanged from November's rate, at five-point-four percent. Average hourly earnings are expected to be three-tenths of a percent higher.