The U.S. unemployment rate fell from 7 percent in November to 6.7 percent in December, a significant decline caused mostly by people leaving the labor force, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning.
The economy created just 74,000 jobs, fewer than economists expected.
The civilian labor force, the number of people working or looking for work, decreased by 347,000, accounting for much of the decline in the unemployment rate. A total of 490,000 fewer people reported that they were unemployed, but just 143,000 of them said they were working.
Employers reported they added 74,000 workers, including 9,000 in manufacturing with 3,500 workers in primary metal manufacturing, such as steel and aluminum.
Health care cut 6,000 jobs with 2,400 jobs lost at hospitals.