The U.S. created 151,000 new jobs in January, a sharp slowdown after a torrid pace of hiring in the waning months of 2015. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected an increase of 180,000 nonfarm jobs. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, dipped below 5% for the first time in eight years, falling to 4.9%. Employment gains for December and November were little changed, the Labor Department said Friday. The government said 262,000 new jobs were created in December instead of 292,000. November's gain was raised to 280,000 from 252,000. Average hourly wages jumped 0.5% to $25.39 in January, another sign that a tightening labor market is forcing companies to pay more to attract workers. Hourly pay rose 2.5% from January 2015 to January 2016. The amount of time people worked each week rose 0.1 hour to 34.6 hours, matching a postrecesion peak. The labor-force participation rate was basically flat at 62.7% in January.
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