WASHINGTON DC: US employment figures were better than expected in December with the creation of 167,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department. The total was substantially higher than the 100,000 forecast and held the month's unemployment rate at 4.5%.

The annual unemployment rate was 4.6%, compared with 5.1% in 2005. However, experts predict the rate could rise to 4.9% during 2007 as the economy slows down.

The business and service sectors saw the biggest rises in the numbers of jobs - adding a total of 228,000 - while manufacturers, goods producers and construction firms reported job losses.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff