The U.S. unemployment rate slipped another 0.2 percentage points in December as employers introduced 252,000 new jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that the national unemployment rate was down to 5.6 percent by year-end 2014, bringing that number down to its lowest level since June 2008. Economists had expected the jobless rate would fall slightly to 5.7 percent and that non-farm payrolls would increase by 245,000. Earlier this week, ADP reported that private payrolls last month had increased by 241,000.
December's slightly better than expected report also brought upward revisions for both October and November payrolls. The government now estimates employers added 261,000 jobs and 353,000 jobs in those months, respectively. While the headline data looks strong, the numbers underneath it are less encouraging. The drop in the unemployment rate was accompanied by a 0.2 percentage point drop in labor force participation as more Americans gave up on finding a job.
Preliminary unaudited results indicate that the Federal Home Loan Banks of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board paid a record amount of approximately 98.7 billion dollars out of their 2014 estimated net income of $101.5 billion to the U.S. Department of Treasury, according to an announcement from the Fed on Friday. The previous high was $88.4 billion, paid in 2012. The Fed's policy requires each of its Banks to distribute its residual earnings to Treasury, after providing the cost of operations, dividend payments, and the necessary amount to equate surplus with capital paid-in.