The United States added 312,000 jobs in December, including 8,100 in the real estate and rental leasing sector, according to the latest jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor‘s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The jobless rate fell 0.2 percent year-over-year from 4.1 percent in December 2017 to 3.9 percent in December 2018. The total number of unemployed fell by 276,000 year-over-year to 6.3 million in December.

However, the 3.9 percent jobless rate was the highest since August of this year.

“December job growth was the fastest since February,” Tendayi Kapfidze, the chief economist at LendingTree said, in a statement. “The 99th straight month of gains indicates that labor market remains robust and that the economy remains quite strong despite recent turmoil in the financial markets. This release did not include the impacts of the government shut down and government jobs rose at the fastest pace since August.”

Wage growth was also up 3.2 percent, year-over-year, the strongest gains since 2009.

“Despite the low unemployment rates, wages have been disappointing so this number is quite encouraging,” Kapfidze said. “If wage growth continues to advance it could lead to more rate hikes by the Fed than currently expected.”

The unemployment rate for adult men and blacks increased in December (3.6 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively). The jobless rates for adult women, teenagers, whites, Asians and Hispanics showed little or no change over the month.

Email Patrick Kearns

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