A pretty dismal number on today's jobs report: Just 74,000 jobs were created in December, the smallest monthly increase in three years; economists had expected 200,000. And while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 7.0%, it was "for all the wrong reasons," writes Steven Russolillo at the Wall Street Journal. Specifically, the big drop can be explained by the fact that the participation rate fell to a new low of 62.8%, meaning fewer people were looking for work.
The AP reports that cold weather could have played a role in the poor numbers, noting that construction firms cut 16,000 jobs—the largest drop in 20 months. One silver lining from the report: November's new jobs were revised upward to 241,000 from 203,000. And Russolillo writes that the same could happen here. "Something doesn’t smell right. This jobs number is so far out of whack from the recent economic data that have come out. Jobs data have been getting stronger for months, not to mention improvements in growth, housing, and manufacturing figures. Don't be surprised if this report gets revised higher in the coming months." (Read more unemployment stories.)