US employers have added 199,000 jobs in December, with the unemployment rate falling by 0.3 percentage points to 3.9 percent, the US Labor Department reported at the end of the last trading week. The job growth is far below the expectations of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, who estimated a job gain of 422,000 jobs. It also represented the smallest monthly gain in a year. Employment continued to trend up in sectors like leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, manufacturing, construction, and transportation and warehousing, said the report. The latest data also showed that the unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage points to 3.9 percent in December, after dropping by 0.4 percentage points in November. The measure was down considerably from its recent high in April 2020 but remained above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5 percent. As of December last year, US non-farm employment has increased by 18.8 million since April 2020 but is still 3.6 million, or 2.3 percent below its pre-pandemic level, according to the report. The number of unemployed persons declined by 483,000 to 6.3 million, the report showed, adding that the measure remained above the pre-pandemic level of 5.7 million. Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers declined by 202,000 to 1.7 million in December but is 408,000 higher than in February 2020. The number of persons on temporary layoff, at 812,000, has essentially returned to its February 2020 level, according to the report.