The U.S. economy added 148,000 jobs in December, according to the monthly employment report released today by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This seasonally adjusted figure is 41 percent lower than November's upwardly revised addition of 252,000 jobs, and marks a 4 percent decrease over the previous December, when 155,000 jobs were created. December's addition of 148,000 jobs did not meet economists' expectations of 180,000, and falls below the average 174,000 jobs added each month in 2017 through November.

Unemployment was unchanged in December, holding steady at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent. The unemployment rate falls in line with projections from economists polled by the Wall Street Journal, and signals a tightened labor market that could result in the Federal Reserve Board putting an additional, fourth interest rate hike in place in 2018 (the Fed had initially reported that three rate hikes could be expected in 2018).

Average hourly earnings for employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 9 cents in December to $26.63. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings for private nonfarm payrolls have increased by 65 cents, or 2.5 percent. Despite a tighter labor market, wage growth has been modest over the past 12 months, and has not exceeded 3.0 percent since January 2012.

Employment in the construction industry grew by 30,000 positions in December to a total of 6,993,000 jobs. In 2017, the construction industry added 210,000 jobs, a 35 percent increase from 2016 when 155,000 jobs were added. Employment in residential building construction increased by 8,200 to 780,800 positions in December, while nonresidential building construction jobs decreased by 1,300 to 769,600 total positions. Employment in heavy and civil engineering construction decreased for the third consecutive month, dropping 700 positions in December to 957,200.

Employment in the manufacturing industry grew by 25,000 jobs in December, largely attributed to a gain of 21,000 jobs in durable goods industries. According to BLS' press release, manufacturing employment increased by 196,000 jobs in 2017, an improvement from a meager net change experienced in 2016 (-16,000).

Meanwhile, payrolls in architectural and engineering services added 2,300 jobs in December, reaching 1,474,900 positions. Employment in architectural and engineering services has been on the rise for 20 consecutive months, and December's seasonally adjusted figure is 3.3 percent higher compared to a year prior, when 1,427,300 positions were reported.

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