WASHINGTON — U.S. employers added a scant 74,000 jobs in December, the fewest in three years. The disappointing figure ends 2013 on a weak note and raises questions about whether the job market can sustain its recent gains.
The Labor Department said this morning that the unemployment rate fell from 7 percent in November to 6.7 percent, the lowest level since October 2008. But the drop occurred mostly because many Americans stopped looking for jobs.
Once people without jobs stop looking for one, the government no longer counts them as unemployed.
Stock futures fell after the report was released. And the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.93 percent about 10 minutes after the report was released from 2.97 late Thursday.
It’s unclear whether the sharp hiring slowdown might lead the Federal Reserve to rethink its plan to slow stimulus efforts. The Fed decided last month to pare its monthly bond purchases, which are designed to lower interest rates.