Updated from 8:40 a.m. EST
The U.S. labor market hit a speed bump in December as retailers and builders added fewer jobs than economists predicted. The government's monthly employment report also showed sharper-than-expected growth in labor costs.
Nonfarm employers added 108,000 jobs last month, below Wall Street's expectations for 200,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percent to 4.9%, while average hourly wages rose 0.3%.
The payroll shortfall was largely offset by a 71,000-job upward revision to the number of jobs created in October and November. Economists had been expecting an unemployment rate of 5% and wage growth of 0.2%.Labor growth was weak in two sectors where seasonal adjustments can skew performance: construction and retail services. Those industries lost a combined 24,000 jobs last month as cold weather blanketed much of the country. The manufacturing sector added 18,000 jobs, while service-producing industries added a combined 96,000 jobs. Business and professional services added 33,000 jobs while education and health employers added 25,000 jobs. Taken as a whole, the report's implications for interest rate policy is neutral, as the lackluster jobs growth is offset by the jump in wage costs. Heading into the report,