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Economy Added 156,000 Jobs Last Month vs 178,000 Expected

by Jeff Cox, CNBC /
An employee prepares a diesel engine for installation into a truck at the Mack Truck cab and vehicle assembly plant in Macungie, Pennsylvania. Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in December, an increase that fell short of analyst expectations of 178,000 but demonstrated a healthy labor market and a record 75th straight month of job growth.

The latest monthly figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics brought total job gains in 2016 to 2.2 million, a decline of about half a million from the previous year.

Unemployment edged slightly higher to 4.7 percent from November's nine-year low of 4.6 percent.

 An employee prepares a diesel engine for installation into a truck at the Mack Truck cab and vehicle assembly plant in Macungie, Pennsylvania. Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

But the big story may be the bump in wages, which showed the biggest gain in seven years. Average hourly wages jumped 10 cents to $26, a 2.9 percent year-on-year gain.

The final report of 2016 also comes as the U.S. prepares for what could be a significant shift ahead. President-elect Donald Trump has promised aggressive fiscal measures including tax cuts and higher domestic spending to pull the economy out of the steady but below-trend gains it has seen during Barack Obama's eight years as president.

Related: Eight Years Later, What is President Obama's Economic Legacy?

The Fed in December enacted its first interest rate hike in a year and is expected to increase as many as three times in 2017. The jobs report is a key component for central bank policymakers.

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