WASHINGTON — The nation’s added 103,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent last month, its lowest level in 19 months.
The previous month’s African-American unemployment rose to 16 percent and has now dipped slightly to 15.8 percent, while black teen unemployment declined to 44.2 percent, but remains the highest of any group.
But the job growth fell short of expectations based on a strengthening economy. And the drop in unemployment was mainly because people stopped looking for work.
Private employers added a net total of 113,000 jobs last month and the government shed 10,000 jobs, the Labor Department said Friday.
“It’s a bit of a mixed bag,” said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s Analytics. Many analysts hoped to see larger job gains, and the drop in the unemployment rate is unlikely to be sustained, he said.
“The labor market ended last year with a bit of a thud,” he said. “But I think things will get much better this year.”