Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. economy added 148,000 jobs in December, fewer than expected, although the unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent, Friday's Bureau of Labor Statistics report indicated.
Economists expected higher growth after 252,000 non-farm jobs were created in November, CNBC reported Friday. The report said gains were seen in healthcare, manufacturing and construction, three categories that saw increases throughout 2017, but the loss of 20,000 retail positions expected during the December holidays slowed growth.
The unemployment rate of 4.1 percent remained steady for the third consecutive month, and the number of unemployed people was unchanged from November to December at 6.6 million. Other data remained essentially unchanged: the number of those unemployed for 27 or more weeks stayed at 1.5 million, or 22.9 percent of the unemployed figure; the labor force participation rate stayed at 62.9 percent, and those who were employed part-time but preferred full-time positions, a group known as involuntary part-time workers, stayed at 4.9 million.
The biggest gains were in healthcare, with 31,000 jobs; construction trades, with 30,000 jobs, and manufacturing, with 25,000 jobs. Bars and restaurants added 25,000 jobs.
The December BLS report is of particular interest to the Federal Reserve, which regards the current unemployment rate as near full employment. Wages, though, have not risen significantly.