The U.S. economy added significantly fewer jobs in December than expected.
The Labor Department said Friday the economy added 199,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate declined to 3.9 percent. It was a disappointing number after economists had expected over 400,000 jobs would be added, according to CNBC. "Employment continued to trend up in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business services, in manufacturing, in construction, and in transportation and warehousing," the Labor Department said.
The latest report came as COVID-19 cases have surged in the United States amid the spread of the Omicron variant, although The New York Times notes the Friday report is based on data collected in the middle of December, prior to the record-breaking number of cases in the past two weeks. The U.S. previously added only 210,000 jobs in November, which was also under expectations after economists were expecting nearly 600,000, though The Wall Street Journal noted the U.S. added a record number of jobs during 2021 as a whole.
Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao wrote Friday that the December report was a "disappointing bookend to a historic year in the job market," which also "highlights that the pandemic remains a barrier to many Americans who would otherwise be available to work."