>>> good evening. in every poll every day of this political season we asked voters about the number one issue and every day the answer comes back jobs and the economy. everyone looking for shreds of evidence of a turnaround or any good news on the horizon. yesterday was auto sales. people are buying cars these last few months. that can't be bad but today brought better news -- a surge in the number of jobs in the private sector just as 2011 came to a close. it's enough for a lot of folks to pin their hopes on as 2012 gets under way. it's where we begin tonight.
>> i have been looking for a job for three years.
>> reporter: in ontario, california, job hunters lined up early for 6,000 jobs at retailer dollar general.
>> i saw the big ad in the paper. i figured it was worth a shot.
>> they are looking for forklift operators.
>> reporter: walmart is looking for 250 new workers today in covington, georgia.
>> i'm more optimistic today than i would have been a couple months ago.
>> reporter: snapshots of a stronger job trend heading into 2012 than we saw a year ago. new numbers from payroll giant adp show the u.s. added 325,000 private sector jobs in december. while the numbers may be inflated by seasonal issues, other indicators are positive, too. u.s. companies say they are planning fewer lay-offs, the lowest number since june. new unemployment claims are down for the best four-week average in two and a half years.
>> fewer people are being fired. more people are being hired.
>> reporter: in large part that's because while segments of the private sector are hiring, amazon, td bank, chrysler and jpmorgan chase among those adding jobs, government jobs continue to dry up.
>> we are seeing state and local cuts of teachers, policemen and firemen. we are now going to see in 2012 the military really begin to see lots of job cutting.
>> reporter: and so while companies like dollar general are building new stores and stoking enthusiasm, boeing this week announced plans to close a plant in kansas that's built airplanes since 1929.
>> this is a very sad day for wichita.
>> reporter: a victim of military spending cuts.
>> nobody is ready to sound the all clear until they can come out of the bunker, look in the sky and make sure there are no more airplanes dropping bombs.
>> reporter: there is one more key number economists will be watching. tomorrow morning the government's report on unemployment and job growth comes out. it is expected to show, even if unemployment ticks up a little, that manufacturers have added jobs for two consecutive years. the peak was in 1979. it's been a long time coming, brian.
>> everyone's looking to hang onto