The U.S. economy added a meager 74,000 jobs in December, according to government data released Friday. The total, far below what analysts had predicted, was the lowest monthly job gain in three years.
Friday’s disappointing jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics comes after several consecutive months of robust growth. Analysts had expected December to cap off the best year since 2005, with employment gains for the month closer to the Wall Street consensus of 197,000 jobs added.
The unemployment rate in December ticked down to 6.7 percent, a drop analysts attribute to fewer people seeking work.
What little hiring happened in December came mostly from the small business sector of the economy. According to NBC, the National Federation of Independent Business reports that small businesses increased their workforces by an average of 0.24 workers per company, making December the best month for that metric since February 2006.