Employers in the United States added 145,000 jobs to close out the year, keeping the unemployment rate at a record low 3.5%, according to federal data released Friday.
That pushed the number of jobs created in 2019 past 2.1 million, a pace that the U.S. economy has hit for the ninth year in a row, though the monthly average slipped from 223,000 in 2018, when the economy added 2.7 million jobs.
Gains in industries such as restaurants and hotels, which added 40,000 jobs, healthcare, which added 28,000 jobs, and retail, which added 41,000 jobs, offset slight declines in mining and manufacturing.
That was behind analysts’ expectations, which had forecast job creation for the month to slow to an estimated 165,000, well behind November’s revised showing of 256,000 jobs added. That could be in part due to the record low unemployment rate, which sat at near 50-year lows for much of the year. Despite the tight labor market, hourly wages were up only slightly in December, by 3 cents to $28.32.