Job growth surged more than economists expected, and the unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent. Fred Katayama reports.
A strong finish to the year. The economy added 292,000 jobs in December, and gains for the previous two months were revised sharply higher. The jobless rate held steady at 5 percent. More people went looking for jobs. That's a sign of confidence in the labor market. One weak point: average wages dropped a penny. The latest report card on the nation's health suggests the slowdown led by the manufacturing sector won't last long. Logging the biggest gains: services, especially professional services and healthcare. The unusually warm weather boosted demand for construction workers. On the minus side: The mining sector, hit hard by the drop in oil prices, shed jobs. So too did the auto sector. Investors drove stocks higher at the start of trading in a week where stocks were slammed due to China woes. The dollar and Treasury yields rose on the report. Quad Capital's Peter Borish called the job creation "outstanding," but says the weak wage growth confirms his contrarian view that the Fed will only hike interest rates once this year. SOUNDBITE: PETER BORISH, CHIEF STRATEGIST, QUAD CAPITAL (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The Fed has indicated they want to see inflation move toward its target of 2 percent. This does not move that needle at all as far as we can tell." Fed policymakers next meet January 26.