WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nation's unemployment rate held steady at a three-decade-low of 4.1 percent in December as 315,000 workers found jobs, the biggest gain since July.
The Labor Department reported today that December's jobless rate matched November's 4.1 percent, the lowest since a 3.9 percent rate in January 1970.
For all of 1999, the unemployment rate averaged 4.2 percent, the lowest since 3.5 percent in 1969 during the Vietnam War, making last year one of the most golden job markets in years. In 1998, the unemployment rate averaged 4.5 percent.
Stock investors seemed to take the news in stride. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 140 points in the first hour of trading and the Nasdaq index, regaining ground lost in major sell-offs earlier this week, was up 80 points.
The bond market, worried that strong wage and job growth could lead to inflation in the future, reacted negatively. Bond prices fell as yields on the bellwether 30-year Treasury bonds climbed to 6.57 percent from 6.55 percent late Thursday.
Employers added 315,000 jobs to their payrolls in December, much more than the 230,000 range many analysts were expecting. Workers founds jobs at construction companies, engineering firms, health care centers and retail stores. But manufacturing continued to lose jobs.
President Clinton today credited information technology with helping ''to create the unprecedented prosperity we enjoy at the end of the 20th century.'' He said the jobless rate for all of 1999 was 4.2 percent -- ''the lowest in 30 years, the lowest annual unemployment rate since 1969, the lowest annual unemployment rates for African-Americans and Hispanics ever recorded.''
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