The past Black Friday weekend saw record breaking sales figures as consumers are feeling more comfortable to purchase again. Job market outlook for early 2012 could provide another gentle boost to consumer spending, which accounts for as much as 70 percent of all U.S. growth.

A record 226 million shoppers hit the stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 212 million last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Over the weekend, the average shopper spent about $400, up from $365.34 last year. Total spending reached an estimated record amount of $52.4 billion.

Although the U.S. economy is restrained by elevated uncertainty, recruiters and hiring managers still foresee a solid hiring picture for the first six months of the year ahead, according to a national survey conducted by careers website Dice Holdings Inc.

Forty-seven percent of hiring managers and recruiters plan to step up hiring in the first half of 2012, as compared to the second half of this year.

When asked how the current economy has impacted their hiring goals for the six months ahead, 43 percent of hiring professionals say their companies' and clients' plans remain unchanged. By contrast, 21 percent are increasing hiring, indicating their view on the economy is more constructive. Another 30 percent report having adjusted their hiring plans downward.

With so much uncertainty in the air when it comes to the economy and job creation, it's a surprisingly positive sign that nearly half of respondents are optimistic about hiring at the start of 2012, said Scot Melland, CEO of Dice Holdings Inc. Although modest in size, we've added private-sector jobs for 20 months now, and that modest job growth looks set to continue.

Compared to mid-2011, when 12 percent of respondents saw layoffs as unlikely, 15 percent cited that possibility for the first six months of 2012.

Nearly four in 10 companies report longer timelines for employee acquisition - based on a dearth of qualified candidates and an abundance of caution brought on by economic uncertainty. This difficulty finding the right people to fill positions comes even as a clear majority of companies surveyed report getting more applications for open positions than compared to the previous six months

October unemployment rate registered at 9 percent and economists are forecasting November readings, which is due this Friday, to remain at that level. However, there is a chance that the number could come in better than expected as November initial claims held below 400,000 for three straight weeks, a mark that most economists believe is essential for the economy to add more jobs than it is shedding.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) plans to hire 7,000 in U.S. by end of 2012, while General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) announced this month a plan to add 400 software engineers over the next two years.

Regionally, Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE: TD) said on Nov. 16 it will expand its corporate operations and create more than 1,400 new jobs in South Carolina in the next three to five years.