December jobs report: U.S. economy adds 74,000 jobs

The U.S. economy added 74,000 jobs in December, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Labor, well short of what was expected.

The official unemployment rate fell to 6.7%, mainly because more people left the workforce. The unemployment rate was 7% the previous month.

Labor force participation fell to 62.8%, as 347,000 people left the workforce.

The number of new jobs, which is subject to revision in future months, was unexpectedly low. This month’s payroll survey by ADP showed that payrolls increased by a healthy 238,000 jobs in December, and labor experts were expecting the government to report roughly 200,000 new jobs.

November job gains were revised upward to 241,000, from the preliminary number of 203,000. The economy created an average of 182,000 new jobs per month in 2013, about the same monthly average (183,000) reported in 2012.