WASHINGTON – The United States’ unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent in December, a month in which a lower-than-expected 148,000 new jobs were created, the Labor Department said Friday.
Job creation slowed relative to November, when 228,000 new positions were added, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ figures.
Economists had been expecting nonfarm payrolls to grow by 190.000 in December.
The unemployment rate, however, remained at its lowest level since 2000 for the third straight month, an indication that the US economy is stabilizing at a level consistent with full employment.
During 2017, the jobless rate fell by 0.6 percentage points and the number of unemployed persons dropped by 926,000, according to Labor Department figures.
The number of people out of work in the US came in at around 6.6 million in December, a figure that was virtually unchanged from the previous month.
In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by $0.09 from November to $26.63.
Meanwhile, the number of long-term unemployed (people out of work for 27 weeks or more) fell to 22.9 percent of the total jobless population on a seasonally adjusted basis, down from 23.9 percent the month before and 24.7 percent in December 2016.
The labor force participation rate, defined as the share of the population 16 years and older either working or seeking work, held steady at 62.7 percent in December compared to both the previous month and December 2016.
Besides the headline unemployment rate (U-3), the Bureau of Labor Statistics also releases other unemployment figures, among them the so-called U-6 rate, which also includes underemployed and discouraged workers.
The U-6 came in at a seasonally adjusted rate of 8.1 percent last month, up from 8 percent in November but down from 9.1 percent in December 2016.