Job creation was the weakest in three years, but the December unemployment rate dropped a few percentage points.
The unemployment rate declined from 7.0% to 6.7% in December, while total nonfarm payroll employment edged up by just 74,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
Economists had expected about 200,000 additional jobs in December.
Employment in retail trade rose by 55,000 in December. Within the industry, job gains occurred in food and beverage stores (+12,000), clothing and accessories stores (+12,000), general merchandise stores (+8,000), and motor vehicle and parts dealers (+7,000).
Retail trade added an average of 32,000 jobs per month in 2013.
Construction employment edged down in December, with a decline of 16,000 jobs. In 2013, the industry added an average of 10,000 jobs per month. Employment in nonresidential specialty trade contractors declined by 13,000 in December, possibly reflecting unusually cold weather in parts of the country, according to the Bureau’s analysis.