Payrolls in December increased at the slowest pace since January 2011, indicating a pause in the recent strength of the U.S. labor market that may partly reflect the effects of bad weather.
The 74,000 gain in payrolls, less than the most pessimistic projection in a Bloomberg survey, followed a revised 241,000 advance the prior month, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 90 economists called for an increase of 197,000. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent, the lowest since October 2008, as more people left the labor force.
More than a quarter million Americans were not at work because of inclement weather, the most for any December since 1977, the Labor Department said. Employers may be awaiting further evidence that the economy is accelerating before they step up the pace of hiring.
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