US non-farm payrolls increased by 74,000 in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The consensus estimate had been for a print of 193,000.
The previous two months' gains were revised higher by a combined 38,000.
However, a large part of the above miss may have been weather induced, Capital Economics pointed out.
To the extent that the above is true expectations for further Fed tapering ought to be relatively unscathed.
For his part, Bill Hubard, Chief Economist at Markets.com pointed out to clients that: "[The] 41,000 negative swing in education / health [looks] like a bad piece of seasonal adjustment rather than a genuine outcome."
In parallel, the unemployment rate meanwhile slipped to 6.7% from the 7% seen last month (consensus: 7%). To be had in account, alongside December's figures the BLS carried out revisions to the Household survey numbers for the last five years using updated seasonal adjustment factors - as is customary.
The labour force participation rate continued to edge lower, retreating to 62.8% after a reading of 63% in the previous month.
Looking at the payrolls figure, private sector hiring slowed to 87,000 people in December, after a reading of 226,000 for the month before.
Employment in services slowed down to a pace of 90,000 from the 175,000 clip seen in November. The largest drop was seen in transportation and warehousing, which shed 600,000 workers after a gain of 34,900 in November.
Government employment decreased by 13,000 in that same month.
The length of the average work-week also diminished, to an average length of 34.4 hours from 34.5 before (consensus: 34.5).
The index of aggregate weekly hours registered a sharp contraction over the month of 0.3%.
Average hourly earnings rose by 0.1% month-on-month (consensus: 0.2%).
Commenting on the data economists at Capital Economics said they suspect much of the above miss in the non-farm payrolls numbers may have been weather induced.
"From the household survey we know that 273,000 people reported not being able to work because of the weather in December, well above the 166,000 long-term average for the final month of each year. That doesn't mean we can mechanically translate that into a 110,000 hit to payrolls [...] Nevertheless, it is normally a pretty good indication."
Dr. Harm Bandholz, Chief US economist at Unicredit had this to say: "We do not think that the disappointing December payroll number marks the beginning of a renewed downward trend. Instead, it is most likely reflects the combination of two (related) factors: Unusually cold weather, and some payback for "too strong numbers" in the previous few months."