WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. economy added just 74,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department announced Friday morning. In its monthly hiring snapshot, the government also said the unemployment rate had dropped to 6.7 percent.
Economists had predicted that employers added 196,000 jobs last month, according to a survey by FactSet.
Steady job gains were a big reason the Federal Reserve decided last month to cut back on its monthly bond purchases, which are intended to lower long-term loan rates to stimulate spending and growth. The U.S. central bank is paring its bond buying to $75 billion a month from $85 billion.
It is likely to further reduce its pace of purchases if the strong job gains continue.