The U.S. added 223,000 jobs in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday in its monthly nonfarm-payrolls report, down from a revised 256,000 jobs in November and higher than economists' forecasts for 200,000.
The unemployment rate fell 3.5%, versus expectations that it would remain at 3.7%.
The price of bitcoin (BTC) was steady at $16,750 in the minutes following the release of the report.
Even though the headline jobs number topped expectations, the trend of slowing growth is clear. Monthly job gains in the first half of 2022 were routinely above 300,000, and December's number is the lowest since April 2021.
In addition, the closely watched wages details were softer than forecast. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3% in December, down from 0.4% growth in November and below expectations for an 0.4% increase. On a year-over-year basis, average hourly earnings rose 4.6% in December, below expectations for 5% growth.
Combined with reports earlier this week showing continued weakness in the manufacturing sector, the jobs figures may be enough for the Federal Reserve to note that its rate hikes in 2022 are slowing down the economy.
In its December meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee lowered its interest-rate hike to 0.5 percentage point from the 0.75 percentage point it had increased its benchmark rate at its previous four meetings.
Before Friday's jobs report, traders had been split on whether the Fed would increase rates by 0.25 percentage point at its next meeting in February. Following the report, the odds have shifted slightly more toward an expectation of a 0.25 point increase.
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