The U.S. economy added 148,000 new jobs in December, while the unemployment rate remained steady at 4.1%, the Labor Department said today. The tally missed economists expectations of a 190,000 increase in employment.

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Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Key takeaways:

  • Job growth in 2017 was relatively strong, but still the slowest since 2011, suggesting we may be entering the later stages of the current economic expansion.
  • The unemployment rate—the lowest since 3.9% marked in December 2000—also indicates that some of the slowdown could be related to a difficulty finding qualified workers, or a need to raise wages to attract workers back into the labor market
  • Wage growth in 2017 remained muted at 2.5%, despite such tight labor markets.
  • The retail sector was the big loser last year, shedding 67,000 jobs overall.
  • The unemployment rate for African Americans dropped to 6.8%, the lowest since the Labor Department began measuring the stat in 1972.

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Why it matters: The disconnect adds to the wealth gap. The richest 10% of households — who own 84% of stocks — are getting richer, while millions of out-of-work Americans cross their fingers that pandemic unemployment benefits will be extended.

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Fauci testifies to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on June 30. Photo: Al Drago/AFP via Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told medical journal JAMA on Thursday that it has been a "very disturbing week" for the spread of the novel coronavirus in the U.S.

What's happening: The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.