December's gain of 148,000 net new jobs, reported last week by the Labor Department, was well below analyst estimates and down sharply from an upwardly revised 252,000 net new jobs added in the previous month.
But beyond the top-line number, analysts said there were positives in the report — and a boost coming this year from the Republican tax bill enacted last month.
December's job creation was enough to push 2017's total over 2 million for the seventh straight year, although the figure was down slightly from 2016. The only other time the U.S. added more than 2 million jobs annually for such a long stretch was during the internet-fueled boom of the 1990s.
Despite the December slowdown, job creation averaged 204,000 over the final three months of 2017. That was the best quarterly pace since mid 2016.
The unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent for the third straight month. That is the lowest since the end of 2000.
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