The nation's unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent last month, its lowest level in 19 months. That was because more people found jobs, but also because some people gave up on their job searches.
The Labor Department says employers added 103,000 jobs in December, an improvement from November's revised total of 71,000 but far below most analysts' expectations.
Private employers added a net total of 113,000 jobs last month. Government shed 10,000.
The drop in the unemployment rate was partly influenced because the government no longer counts people as unemployed when they stop looking for work.
Through all of 2010, the nation added 1.1 million jobs, or an average of 94,000 jobs a month.