|A man walks past the Chamber of Commerce building in Washington, DC., the United States, Jan. 10, 2014. The Labor Department reported that only 74,000 jobs were added to payrolls in last December, the fewest in three years and far less than economists were expecting, but the unemployment rate falling from 7 to 6.7 percent. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Labor Department's December jobs report confounded forecasters Friday, with only 74,000 jobs added, the fewest in three years, but the unemployment rate falling from 7 to 6.7 percent.
Expectations for the month were for about 200,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate to remain unchanged.
The job growth slowed sharply from the revised 241,000 in November and was less than the average monthly level of 183,000 in the past year, according to the report.
The private sector added 87,000 jobs while governments at different levels trimmed their payrolls by 13,000, the department said.
Employment in the manufacturing sector rose 9,000, and retail trade added 55,000 jobs over the month. However, construction employment edged down 16,000 and transportation and warehousing also pulled back on hiring in December.
The December rate is the lowest level since October 2008. The number of unemployed Americans declined by 490,000 to 10.4 million, and the number of long-term unemployed, people who had been jobless for more than six months, stood at 3.9 million, accounting for 37.7 percent of the total.
The labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 62.8 percent, indicating more people gave up looking for jobs.