Jobless rate falls to 5.6 percent

Employers added 252,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.
Last year saw total gains of 2.95 million jobs, the best showing since 1999.
The final month of 2014 beat economists' expectations, a good sign for the labor market in 2015. After falling from 5.8 percent, the jobless rate is now the lowest since June 2008.
The economy created an average of 289,000 jobs over the past three months, one of the best streaks on record.
But there are concerns about the pace of wage growth.
“Yet while the economy is showing some signs of improvement, far too many middle-class families are struggling to bridge the gap between rising costs and stubbornly flat paychecks.”
The promising wage growth of November slipped in December, with average hourly earnings falling 5 cents to $24.57, following a 6 cent increase in November.
“Today’s jobs report, again, was very strong and shows the labor market is maturing and economy performing soundly,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist of the National Retail Federation.
“However, the earnings data was a bit disappointing,” he said.
“Though the labor market slack is diminishing, the drop in energy prices and anemic wage growth, the Federal Reserve appears to have more runway for its ‘liftoff' of short-term rates.”
While jobs and economic growth have continued at a steady pace, economists have said that many workers won’t latch onto that optimism until they get a boost in pay.
The private sector has added 11.2 million jobs over 58 straight months of job growth, extending the longest streak on record.
“Although nominal wages fell in December, inflation-adjusted wages have generally been rising, and job growth has picked up in sectors that traditionally provide good, middle class jobs,” Furman said in a statement.
Justin Wolfers, an economist with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said on Twitter that getting people back to work does plenty to boost living standards than an extra point or two of wage growth.
He emphasized that the key is getting people back to work so they can earn a paycheck.
Labor Secretary Thomas PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE tweeted that the “undeniable unfinished business is to see real wage growth. The president is focused on lifting wages of ordinary Americans."
Several sectors showed strong growth with construction companies adding 48,000 jobs in December, up from 20,000 in November.
Healthcare added 34,000 jobs in December, and manufacturing employment increased by 17,000, which was lower than the 29,000 the previous month.
The unemployment rate fell mostly because 273,000 people stopped looking for work.
The labor force participation rate edged down by 0.2 percentage point to 62.7 percent in December. Still, since April, the participation rate has remained within a narrow range of 62.7 to 62.9 percent.
Adjusted job gains in October and November were 50,000 higher than initially reported — up to 261,000 from 243,000 in October and to 353,000 from 321,000 in November.