Payrolls rose in December at the slowest pace in almost three years, breaking a string of recent strong gains in the U.S. labor market, the Labor Department reported. The 74,000 rise in December payrolls fell below the most pessimistic projection in a Bloomberg survey. The median forecast of 90 economists in the Bloomberg survey called for an increase of 197,000 jobs in December, with the survey estimates for December ranging from gains of 100,000 to 250,000. The low job growth in December followed a revised 241,000 jump the prior month. The unemployment rate for December dropped to 6.7 percent, the lowest since October 2008, but could have been due to a surge of people dropping out of the labor force. The unemployment rate for December was forecast to hold at 7 percent. The jobless rate averaged 7.4 percent in 2013, the lowest in five years.
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