U.S. payrolls and wages increase

U.S. payrolls continue to grow, although the latest gain fell below the monthly average for the year.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 156,000 in December, according to the latest Labor Department estimates. The unemployment rate edged up a tenth of a point to 4.7 percent.

Initial estimates for payroll gains in November and October were revised upward a total of 19,000. An increase of 26,000 jobs for November more than offset a decrease of 7,000 jobs for October.

With the latest numbers, payroll gains for 2016 totaled 2.2 million, about 500,000 less than 2015 and the smallest annual amount since 2011. Payrolls increased an average of about 183,000 a month in 2016.

For December, the number of people counted among those unsuccessfully looking for work was little changed at 7.5 million. Another 5.6 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours had been reduced or they’re unable to find full-time positions. The labor force participation rate remained unchanged at 62.7 percent.

Employment in the health care sector increased 43,000 in December, while food service and drinking places added 30,000 jobs. Employment rose 20,000 in social assistance, and manufacturing payrolls increased 17,000. Business and professional services added 15,000 positions, as did the transportation and warehousing sector.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.3 hours. The manufacturing workweek edged up a tenth of an hour to 40.7 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 10 cents to $26. Over the past year, wages have increased 2.9 percent, the biggest annual gain in more than seven years.