US job growth surged unexpectedly in December, government data showed Friday, wrapping up a solid year for the labor market even as voters remain gloomy about the economy ahead of November's presidential election.

The world's biggest economy added 216,000 jobs in the final month of 2023 despite expectations of a slowdown from the prior month, according to Department of Labor data.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent, holding at a historically low level and defying forecasts of a small uptick.

These robust figures come as higher interest rates bite, after the Federal Reserve lifted the benchmark lending rate rapidly and held it at a high level to ease demand and rein in inflation.

Wage growth was steady in December, rising 0.4 percent from November 2023, said the Labor Department.

Compared with the same period a year before, average hourly earnings rose by 4.1 percent.

Among sectors where employment continued to trend up were government, health care, social assistance and construction. But transportation and warehousing lost jobs.

In 2023, although sectors such as manufacturing and housing were hit hard by higher interest rates, a resilient labor market helped support consumption and the broader economy.