U.S. Job Market Ends 2015 With a Bang, Adding 292,000 Jobs in December

Unemployment rate remains unchanged at 5%

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According to a report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy ended 2015 with a bang, adding 292,000 new jobs in December.

Showing signs of employment momentum, the numbers exceeded economists’ expectations of 200,000 job gains, keeping the unemployment rate unchanged at 5%. With holiday hiring leading to greater job openings, businesses added 275,000 jobs. Federal, state, and local governments added 17,000. However, thousands of jobs were lost last year among manufacturing and oil companies as factories suffered due to a weak economy overseas, making U.S. exports more expensive for foreign buyers.

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“I think this really is illustrative of the fact that economic momentum in the United States is still awfully strong,” Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust, tells The New York Times. “In spite of the craziness we’ve seen from Asian markets this week, the fundamentals here at home are still solid.”

December’s job numbers mirror the upward gains that were shown in the previous months for October and November. In October, numbers went from 298,000 to 307,000 and in November, numbers went from 211,000 to 252,000. The Federal Reserve, which raised interest rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade, has been watching the job report numbers closely to decide whether or not to continue to hike rates in 2016.

Overall, the economy added an additional 221,000 jobs per month in 2015, up from the 199,000 average in 2013, but down from the 260,000 jobs added in 2014.