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Friday, January 8, 1999 Published at 14:36 GMT

Business: The Economy

US jobs soar

It was a US jobs bonanza in December

The number of jobs created in the US leapt upwards in December.

The employment figures are much strong than expected, calming fears about the state of the US economy and reducing the chance of further domestic interest rate cuts in the near future.

The continued strength of the US economy helped push shares on Wall Street higher when trading got underway on Friday.

The US economy created 378,000 jobs in December, when the unemployment rate dipped to 4.3% from 4.4% in November, according to the Labor Department.

President Bill Clinton who is embroiled in impeachment proceedings, celebrated the roaring US economy. He told a meeting of the Detroit Economic Club; "Most things are going right for our country. We gather today at a time of American economic renaissance."

Unemployment low

The US unemployment rate has now fallen to its lowest level since 1970, and the figures represent the largest monthly rise in employment for more than a year.

The booming housing market help fuel a sharp rise in construction jobs. Unusually warm weather in December also boosted the sector.

The number of transport and service sector workers also grew rapidly.

For the year, US employers added 2.9m jobs. That growth was achieved despite 234,000 job losses in manufacturing and 35,000 in mining, principally oil-drilling, reflecting slack world demand.

The rise in employment was almost double the consensus of analysts forecasts.

Strong demand for labour pushed average hourly wages for US non-farm workers up 5 cents in December to $12.98, a rise of 3.8% from a year earlier.

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