By John S. McClenahen In contrast to a loss of 9,000 jobs in November 2004, the manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy added 3,000 jobs in December, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Jan. 7. Among producers of durables goods, makers of computers, transportation equipment and wood products added jobs. Semiconductor and electronic-component producers, and electrical equipment and appliance manufacturers shed jobs. Among nondurable goods producers, food processors and printing added jobs, while beverage and tobacco companies, makers of petroleum and coal products, and apparel manufacturers shed jobs. The pace of business activity in manufacturing continues to exceed the rate of job creation, suggesting that information technology and other capital investments coupled with higher worker productivity are making companies more efficient. For all of 2004, U.S. manufacturing added 76,000 jobs, most of them early in the year, the Labor Department noted. The overall U.S. nonfarm economy, of which manufacturing is a part, added 157,000 jobs in December, about what's needed to keep up with population growth but under the 175,000 jobs that many economists were expecting to be generated last month. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 5.4% in December, with 8 million people jobless.