U.S. Added 312,000 Jobs in December; Unemployment at 3.9%

The Labor Department released its official hiring and unemployment figures for December on Friday morning, offering the latest picture of the American economy.

■ 312,000 jobs were added last month. Wall Street analysts had anticipated an increase of about 180,000. It was the biggest monthly gain since 324,000 jobs were added in February. Including revisions, the monthly average for October, November and December was 254,000.

■ The unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent. November’s jobless rate was 3.7 percent.

■ The average hourly wage rose by 3.2 percent from a year earlier.

In the last couple of months, as stocks swayed and concern over the prospect of a recession ensued, the labor market was relatively steady. And December’s numbers ended the year with a flourish.

“It’s much higher than expected,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at the online employment market site ZipRecruiter. “The overall picture is that there is strong job growth on Main Street and it continues to be quite robust, despite uncertainty on Wall Street.”

And the unemployment rate seems to have risen for good reasons — more people are being drawn into the job market, perhaps because of higher wages. The labor force grew by a healthy 419,000 people last month.

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Source: New York Times