The economy added 292,000 jobs in December while the unemployment rate stayed at 5 percent, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Analysts had expected 200,000 jobs to be added.
December job growth was led by professional and business services (73,000), construction (45,000), health care (39,000), food and drinking services (37,000), and transportation and warehousing (23,000).
Revisions to past reports added a total of 50,000 more jobs than previously thought, with 9,000 in October and 41,000 in November. An average of 284,000 jobs were added each month over the last three months.
However, gains in wages were weak. Hourly earnings fell 1 cent in December after a 5-cent increase in November, and average hourly earnings have risen just 2.5 percent over the last year.
During 2015, the unemployment rate dropped by 0.6 percentage point while the economy added 2.7 million jobs. That’s a bit of a slowdown from 2014, when 3.1 million were added. Some of the strongest job growth in 2015 came from professional and business services with 605,000 jobs, health care with 474,7000 jobs, and food and drinking services with 357,000 jobs.