US jobless rate falls to 3.5%

The US jobless rate fell for a second straight month in December, indicating that a labor shortage continues to turbo charge inflation in the world's largest economy.

The Department of Labor said on Friday that the unemployment rate slipped 0.1 point from November to 3.5 percent.

It also said nonfarm payrolls increased by 223,000 from the previous month. That was beyond many analysts' expectations of about 200,000.

Average hourly earnings rose 4.6 percent from a year ago and 0.3 percent from the previous month. The modest increase is below what many analysts expected.

Many US companies are competing to secure new workers by offering higher salaries. They cover the extra labor costs by raising prices, which drives up inflation.