Healthcare added the most jobs of any industry in December, according to a labor department report, but overall the economic news was disappointing, with only 148,000 jobs added -- less than the 190,000 additional jobs that economists expected.
About 31,000 jobs were added to the healthcare sector. Ambulatory healthcare services earned the most gains at more than 15,000 additional jobs, and hospitals added more than 12,000 jobs. Despite the gains, they fell short of last year's December jobs total, with about 379,000 jobs added in healthcare in December 2016.
With its 31,000 new jobs, healthcare paced ahead of construction at 30,000, manufacturing at 25,000 and bars and restaurants at 25,000. Professional and business services grew by about 19,000 that month.
Retail, meanwhile, shed 20,000 jobs during the industry's peak season, though holidays sales showed a dramatic increase.
Average hourly earnings rose to about the same 2.5 percent annualized gain as in November. Wage pressures have remained muted despite estimates that the job market is near full employment.