US employers add 223,000 jobs

America’s employers added 223,000 jobs in December, evidence that the economy remains healthy even as the Federal Reserve is rapidly raising interest rates to try to slow economic growth and the pace of hiring, according to a news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While the December job growth was the lowest monthly increase in two years, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, matching a 53-year low, the Labor Department said.

The monthly employment report offered other signs that the job market has begun to cool. Last month’s gains were less than half the 537,000 that were added in July. And average hourly wage growth slowed sharply: It was up 4.6% in December from 12 months earlier, compared with a 4.8% year-over-year increase in November and a recent peak of 5.6% in March.

Slower paycheck growth will be a relief for Fed officials, who regard wage growth as a driver of future inflation.