*(Via LA Times) – Ignoring the economic troubles in the rest of the world, the U.S. added another large batch of new jobs in December to conclude its best year of hiring since 1999.
The nation’s unemployment rate fell by a larger-than-expected 0.2 percentage point to 5.6% in December, but that was partly because the labor force shrank last month. Still, the latest jobless figure is the lowest since June 2008 and is down from 6.7% a year earlier.
Friday’s report, however, did not bring encouraging news on ordinary workers’ pay. Average hourly earnings for all private-sector workers fell 5 cents to $24.57, almost completely reversing the 6-cent gain in November that had raised hopes of a long-anticipated rise in pay. Average hourly wages have hardly budged in recent years; last month’s pay was up 1.7% from a year earlier, a tad above the inflation rate.
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