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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.

Expand chart
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.

Go deeper

UN poll: Most see climate change as global emergency amid pandemic

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) fronts a Fridays For Future protest at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in September. Photo: Jonathan Nacksrtrand/AFP via Getty Images

64% of people from around the world say climate change is a global emergency, a United Nations poll published Wednesday finds.

Why it matters: It's biggest global survey on climate change ever conducted, with some 1.2 million participants from 50 countries — including the U.S. where 65% of those surveyed view climate change as an emergency.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.