The unemployment rate rose because more than 400,000 people joined the labor force looking for jobs.
The positive jobs report was welcome news to Americans concerned about more interest rate hikes, the Trump administration's trade war with China, the government shutdown and a slowing global economy. "Those two things can not coexist for very long".
The growth was primarily due to ambulatory healthcare services, which added 37,800 jobs in December compared to 19,200 jobs in November.
"There is no preset path for policy and particularly with the muted inflation readings that we've seen coming in, we will be patient as we watch to see how the economy evolves", Powell said at the American Economic Association's annual meeting in Atlanta.
But in recent weeks, financial markets have been increasingly anxious about the path of economic growth this year. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed roughly 450 points in morning trading, an increase of about 2 percent. Apple CEO Tim Cook said China's growth was hurt by "rising trade tensions with the United States".
Data releases from Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis have been suspended during the shutdown, which started on Dec 22 amid demands by President Donald Trump for US$5 billion in border wall funding.
It is expected to slow to around 150,000 per month this year as workers become more scarce. "An upside surprise could increase market expectations for rate hikes in 2019, while a downside surprise could lead markets to price a higher probability that exceptional USA growth is not immune from declining equity prices and slowing global growth". But Hassett emphasized that the hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers will eventually receive back pay, diminishing the shutdown's negative economic impact.
Employment at construction sites rebounded last month, with companies hiring 38,000 employees after adding no workers in November. Restaurants and drinking placed posted a net gain of 40,700 jobs.
Manufacturing payrolls increased by 32,000 jobs in December, but could surprise on the downside after a measure of factory employment fell last month.
Fresh Coat Painters, based in Cincinnati, plans to almost double the 300 employees who paint homes and businesses as it expands this year across this country. The average workweek increased to 34.5 hours in December from 34.4 hours in November.
Tara Riley, president of Fresh Coat, said that franchise owners were having to actively search for workers instead of simply posting ads in hope of finding workers.
But hiring has easily eclipsed that pace. The number blew past economists' expectations - who forecasted only 182,000 jobs would be added in the final month of 2018. The strong wage gain makes a policy change unlikely. This is because there is a dwindling pool of unemployed people searching for work after several years of solid hiring.
U.S. job growth likely picked up in December with wages expected to have increased solidly, which could help to allay a recent upsurge in fears about the economy's health that have roiled financial markets. The increase in job numbers exceeds that of the prior month, which saw 250,000 new jobs added to the economy. "When that happens, we shouldn't panic".