Disappointing job creations are in addition to those in November, which were also much lower than economists’ forecasts (249,000 revised up).
The data was also collected before the omicron variant of COVID-19 spread throughout the country.
On the other hand, although the unemployment rate continues to decrease in the bulk of the population, it increased 0.6 points among African Americans, standing at 7.1%.
President Joe Biden, who has made increasing employment and reducing inequality a priority, is expected to comment on these figures Friday.
“Job growth averaged 537,000 per month in 2021,” the Labor Department said in a statement.
Since April 2020, 18.8 million jobs have been created, but 3.6 million are still short of reaching the pre-pandemic level.
In December, employment continued to rise in the leisure and hospitality sector, among those most affected by COVID-19, as well as in professional and business services, industry, construction, and transportation and warehousing.
Almost two years after the arrival of the virus in the United States, sectors such as entertainment and hospitality, necessarily face-to-face, remain extremely vulnerable.
Many companies have postponed their plans to return to office work, sometimes indefinitely.
Restaurants and theaters are in an increasingly difficult situation due to chronic staff shortages and fears of new omicron infections.
Some school districts have returned to distance education, or are threatening to do so, making it especially difficult for women to return to work.