U.S. December Jobs Numbers Disappoint

The U.S. jobs market ended 2019 on a sour note, with December’s payroll and wage growth missing expectations.

U.S. Labor Department figures released Friday showed non-farm payrolls increased by just 145,000 while the unemployment rate held steady at 3.5%. Economists had been looking for job growth of 160,000. The jobless rate met expectations for staying at a 50-year low.

In addition to the slow payroll growth, average hourly earnings rose by just 2.9%, below the 3.1% projection. December marked the first time that wage gains were below 3% on a year-over-year basis since July 2018.

Revisions to the October and November counts brought those two months down by 14,000 as well. The exciting 266,000-job initial estimate for November came down 10,000 while October’s fell from 156,000 to 152,000.

On the upside, a separate, more encompassing measure that includes discouraged and underemployed workers fell to 6.7%, the lowest that figure has ever been in records going back to 1994. The decline came amid a drop of 140,000 in people working part-time for economic reasons.