Payroll data leads to drop in unemployment rate

The total number of jobs added to the national economy did not meet expectations, but the overall payroll additions lowered the unemployment rate by 0.4 percent in December, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Labor.

New payroll figures showed an increase of 103,000 jobs during the final month of the year, which failed to meet the average predicted total of 150,000, as indicated by a Bloomberg survey. December broke the trend of higher-than-expected employment growth after job creation beat expectations in October and November.

"Firms must ratchet up hiring before we can expect consistent trend growth for the economy," Jeffrey Roach, chief economist at Horizon Investments, told Bloomberg. "Slower job growth will weigh on consumer spending for the next few quarters."

Analysts state that further job creation is needed to help keep consumer spending levels at the accelerated pace they showed during the holiday season. Furthermore, payroll data will need to double December's rate to extend the drop in unemployment.

Construction and professional services were the two industries that lagged the most last month, recording the lowest job growth since May and July, respectively. The current 9.4 percent unemployment rate is the lowest since May 2009, according to the Labor Department.

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