December Jobs Report Disappoints

By: Greg Palmer
By: Greg Palmer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney - BLS) -- U.S. stock futures bounced around the break even line Friday following a government jobs report that fell way short of what economists were predicting.

The economy added only 74,000 jobs in December, far below the 193,000 that economists surveyed by CNNMoney had forecast. Futures pulled back immediately after the report, before returning to modest gains.

The unemployment rate last month fell to 6.7% from 7%, the Labor Department said.

The jobs report tends to be a big market mover, significantly influencing investment decisions of traders and investors.

The report -- the final jobs reading of 2013 -- will provide an important gauge of the economy's recent momentum, and could influence the Federal Reserve's plans for its monetary stimulus program.

The Federal Reserve last month began scaling back that program amid economic data showed evidence of an improving economy.

U.S. stocks finished flat Thursday. European markets were rising in morning trading. Asian markets closed with mixed results.

What's moving: Target shares were under pressure after the retailer said 70 million individuals had information stolen in the recent data breach of credit and debit cards.

Alcoa shares sank in premarket trading, one day after the aluminum producer reported quarterly earnings that missed estimates.

Sears shares plunged after the retailer reported a sharp drop in same-store sales during the holiday season and issued a weaker-than-expected forecast.

Abercrombie & Fitch shares surged after the clothing retailer raised its earnings guidance for the year.

Looking deeper in Bureau of Labor Statistics data CLICK HERE indicates possible problems.

The number of adults “not in labor force” increased to 91,808,000 in December 2013 from 88,865,000 December 2012.

Employed adults stand at 144,586,000 for December 2013 up from 143,212,000 in December 2012 a average net increase of 114,500 jobs per month even though the population increased over 199,000 per month.

Total employment has increased to 144,588,000 the highest point since 2008 but well under the 2007 peak of 146,047,000 even though the population has increased by 14,878,000 during the same period.

2007 was also the peak for employment percentage of the population at 63.1% compared to 58.6% for December 2013.


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