The U.S. economy added 292,000 non-farm payroll jobs in December, higher than the forecast of 230,000 from briefing.com while the unemployment rate remained stead at 5 percent, according to a report this morning from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
During the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 284,000 per month.
Job revisions for November and October were 50,000 higher than previously reported.
October was revised from 298,000 to 307,000, and November was revised from 211,000 to 252,000.
Job gains were highest in professional and business services which increased by 73,000 in December followed by construction with increases of 45,000 jobs and healthcare which added 39,000 jobs.
Employment in mining continued to decline in December with -8,000 losses.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.5 hours in December.
The civilian labor force participation rate, at 62.6 percent, was little changed in December.
In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls, at $25.24, changed little (-1 cent), following an increase of 5 cents in November.
Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.5 percent.
The stronger than expected non-farm payroll report in December shows that the employment picture is in good shape in the U.S. and bolsters the case for a rate hike in March.
Last month, the Federal Reserve decided to raise interest rates for the first time since 2006.
On Wednesday private payroll processor ADP reported private sector employment increased by 257,000 in December, the largest gain of the year and well above the forecast of 200,000 from briefing.com.
“Strong job growth shows no signs of abating. The only industry shedding jobs is energy. If the pace of job growth is sustained, which seems likely, the economy will be back to full employment by mid year” said Mark Zadi, an economist from Moody Analytics in a released statement.
“This is a significant achievement, given that the last time the economy was at full employment was nearly a decade ago” Zandi added.