In a mildly disappointing report, the Department of Labor reported this morning that the economy added 156,000 jobs in December. The headline unemployment rate ticked up by one percentage point to 4.7 percent.
Job growth totaled 2.16 million in 2016, less than the increase of 2.7 million in 2015. The number of new jobs added each month has gradually slowed as the economy recovers from the depths of the recession, from average monthly gains of 251,000 in 2014, to 229,000 in 2015, and 180,000 this year.
One positive sign in this month's numbers: Average hourly wages jumped 0.4 percent to $26 last month. Hourly pay increased 2.9 percent from December 2015 to December 2016, marking the fastest 12-month increase since the recovery began in mid-2009.