Washington (AFP) – Job growth in the world’s largest economy slowed in the final month of 2016 and the already-low unemployment rate rose marginally, the Labor Department reported Friday.
The US added a solid 156,000 jobs in December but the jobless rate nudged up to 4.7 percent, reversing some of the sudden drop in November, when unemployment fell to 4.6 percent, its lowest level in nearly a decade.
The figures are the final official snapshot of US labor market to be produced during Barack Obama’s presidency and confirm a picture of relative health of the economy he will hand over to President-elect Donald Trump later this month.
The job gains in December were short of the consensus forecast for 175,000 new positions, but while the jobs engine may have cooled in the month the report also pointed to positive trends.
The November figure saw a major upward revision, of nearly 15 percent to 204,000 net new positions added for the month and bringing the average job gains to 165,000 over the past three months.
Wages also crept upwards, with average hourly earnings rising to $26.00, up 10 cents from November.
In a separate report, Commerce Department data showed the US trade deficit edged upwards in November as a strong dollar helped the US import more goods. The trade gap for the month grew $2.9 billion to $45.2 billion, surpassing an analyst consensus which called for a decrease of $200 million.