Employment increased for a third consecutive month, up 79,000 in December. The unemployment rate continued on a downward trend, decreasing by 0.2 percentage points to 5.7%, the lowest since comparable data became available in January 1976.
The employment increase in December was concentrated in part-time work, which rose by 55,000.
The additional employment in December builds on growth observed in October and November. This boosted gains for the fourth quarter to 193,000 or 1.0%, the most robust rate of quarterly growth since the second quarter of 2010.
In the 12 months to December 2017, employment was up 423,000 (+2.3%), with nearly all the gains in full-time work (+394,000 or +2.7%). Over the same period, total hours worked grew 3.1%.
The unemployment rate followed a downward trend in the 12 months to December, falling 1.2 percentage points over this period. A year-end review is presented in a separate section below.