Employers added 156,000 jobs in December, slightly below expectations, while the unemployment rate rose to 4.7 percent in the final monthly report of the Obama administration.
The Labor Department reported on Friday that labor market continued cranking out modest gains last month in the first full month since Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social' Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe Meadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report MORE won the White House.
Trump will inherit a healthy economy for jobs, but he may face challenges as the market inches closer to full employment.
The president-elect has vowed to bring jobs back to the United States and is threatening to slap high tariffs on American firms that move their production abroad.
The unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage point from 4.6 percent in December, and job estimates were revised down for November.
Still, the unemployment rate is at the lowest level to end a year since 2006.
The economy added 2.2 million jobs last year, an average of 180,000 jobs a month, down from 229,000 a month in 2015.
When President Obama took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent and the economy was in the throes of a deep economic crisis.
The jobless rate peaked at 10 percent in October of Obama’s first year in office and took five years to gradually drop back below 6 percent.
The economy has added jobs for 75 straight months, the longest streak since 1939, although the overall rate of growth has been slower than in previous administrations.
A bright spot in the December jobs report was a 10-cent rise in average hourly earnings. Over the year, earnings rose 2.9 percent, the largest increase since 2009, a sign of the tightening labor market.
Manufacturing perked up last month, adding 17,000 jobs, but the sector struggled during the year amid a stronger dollar that made exports more expensive overseas.
Since reaching a recent peak in January, manufacturing employment has declined by 63,000.
Meanwhile, construction shed 3,000 jobs.
Mining, which added 3,000 jobs in November, lost 2,000 last month. In other sectors, employment in healthcare rose by 43,000 in December, averaging 35,000 jobs per month in 2016, roughly in line with the average monthly gain of 39,000 in 2015.
Restaurants added 30,000 jobs in December and for the year hired 247,000, fewer than the 359,000 jobs gained the previous year.
Employment in professional and business services added 15,000 in December and 522,000 jobs last year.