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Economy created fewer jobs than expected

Just when the U.S. job outlook looked a little brighter, the Labor Department's unemployment report threw us yet another curve ball.

The U.S. economy created far fewer jobs that expected in December, even though the unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in more than a year, the Labor Department said Friday.

Non-farm payrolls increased 103,000, according to the government's report. The showing missed projections by economists, who raised their employment forecasts after payrolls processing company ADP Employer Services said on Wednesday that private sector employers added 297,000 last month.

Private hiring rose 113,000, the Labor Department said. Government employment dropped 10,000.

Meanwhile, the nation's unemployment rate fell to 9.4 percent from 9.8 percent in November. That's the lowest rate since May 2009, although it accounts for changes to overall employment numbers for October and November. Those figures were revised to show a gain of 70,000 more jobs than were previously reported.

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