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Shock drop in US jobs growth

Shock drop in US jobs growth
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There has been a setback on the jobs front in the United States.

Employers hired the fewest workers in almost three years in December, but that is being linked to super cold weather there and is expected to be only temporary.

Payrolls rose by just 74,000 last month, which was way down on November’s 241,000. The November total was revised upwards by 38,000.

December’s was the smallest increase since January 2011 and fell far short of economists’ predictions of job gains of 196,000.

The overall unemployment rate fell from 7.0 percent to 6.7 percent. That was the lowest since October 2008 and in part reflected people leaving the work force.

The link to cold weather in some parts of the US comes from a breakdown of the numbers. That showed construction employment fell for the first time since May – down 16,000 – and leisure and hospitality payrolls rose only marginally.

There were also declines in government employment of 13,000, while manufacturing employment rose for a fifth straight month.

The step back in hiring is at odds with other employment indicators that have painted an upbeat picture of the jobs market.

A string of data – from consumer spending and trade to industrial production – has suggested the economy ended 2013 on a strong footing and positioned to grow even more this year.