Seasonal gains drove the American economy to create 200,000 jobs in December, causing the nation’s unemployment rate to edge down to 8.5 percent from a revised 8.7 percent in November.

Meanwhile the nation’s underemployment rate – a broader, more accurate measure of joblessness – also ticked down from 15.6 to 15.2 percent.

While those numbers represent good news for U.S. President Barack Obama, the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain weak. Also, for the 34th consecutive month the unemployment rate remains above 8 percent – which is a mark Obama’s economic advisers said the rate wouldn’t exceed after the passage of the so-called “stimulus” three years ago.

So much for that prediction …

Here in South Carolina, the unemployment rate is currently 9.9 percent – the eighth-highest rate in the nation. Meanwhile South Carolina’s underemployment rate – measured quarterly – is currently 18.4 percent.