U.S. businesses add 145,000 jobs, jobless rate stays at 3.5 percent


The U.S. economy ended 2019 on a solid note, as the Labor Department reported Friday that 145,000 jobs were added in December, helping the nation's unemployment rate to stay at the historically low level of 3.5 percent, though the latest report showed hourly wage gains slowed at the end of 2019.

With some revisions still to take place in the final numbers for last year, average monthly job gains in 2019 were just under 176,000, down about 20 percent from the 223,250 per month generated by the economy in 2018.

Still, the jobs numbers translated into more good news for Republicans and President Trump, with the 2020 elections on the horizon.

"A great jobs report to cap off a great year for our economy!" tweeted Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ).

The U6 unemployment rate - considered the broadest measure of joblessness - went down to just 6.7 percent in December, again signaling the broader job gains generated by the economy.

When President Trump took office, the U6 rate was 9.3 percent; this figure has been kept by the Labor Department since 1994, and the December rate of 6.7 percent was the lowest figure ever recorded.

The Labor Force Participation Rate stayed at 63.2 percent in December. That figure was often a target of derision by Republicans during the Obama Administration - but despite the job gains of the last three years - the labor force numbers have stayed in a very narrow range under President Trump.

The unemployment rate for black Americans - which had hit a historic low in August at 5.4 percent - bounced back up to 5.9 percent in December.

While GOP lawmakers touted 'solid wage growth' after the jobs report was issued on Friday, figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed average hourly wages went up just three cents an hour in December.

One other sign of a healthy economy came from figures about people holding multiple jobs - that went down by 161,000 in December, the fifth straight monthly decline.

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