The unemployment rate held at 5 percent.
The new data provides the first complete measuring stick for the labor market in 2015, a year in which the nation contended with volatile oil prices, a major slowdown in China and modest growth at home. The labor market for several years has been the bright spot in the U.S. economy, even though wage growth has remained tepid.
The December report marks the U.S. economy's second-best year of job growth since 1999, adding roughly 210,000 new positions per month. Only in 2014, when the nation's payroll expanded monthly by an average of 260,000, was the mark higher. Meantime, the unemployment rate stands at its lowest point in more than seven years.
In a sign of confidence in the economy, the Federal Reserve in December raised interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade, removing the easy terms of borrowing that had helped stimulate the economy since the Great Recession. The Fed's 10-member voting committee said in meeting minutes released this week that the labor market, though still shy of its full potential, showed "further improvement" and "confirmed that underutilization of labor resources had diminished appreciably since early this year."
Still, there are signs from farther afield that are causing concern among economists and investors. New information about a Chinese economic slowdown, coupled with Beijing's currency devaluation, this week caused a route in global markets. The Dow Jones Industrial average has tumbled more than 5 percent in the first four days of trading this week.