Vitner noted that health care layoffs had been announced over the fall and that these figures appear to be "genuine."
Transportation and warehousing cut some jobs, suggesting that shippers hired fewer workers for the holidays. Governments cut 13,000 positions.
Despite December's sharp slowdown, monthly job gains averaged 182,000 last year, nearly matching the average monthly gains for the previous two years.
One bright spot was manufacturing. Factories added 9,000 positions, the fifth straight gain. Still, that's down from 31,000 in November. Retailers added 55,000 jobs.
Recent data have painted a picture of an economy on the steady rise. Exports hit a record level in November, lowering the U.S. trade deficit. Businesses have ordered more manufactured goods. Auto sales reached a six-year high in 2013.
Analysts now estimate that the economy expanded at a healthy annual rate of 3 percent to 3.5 percent in the October-December quarter. That's up from earlier forecasts of a 2 percent rate or less. It would follow a strong 4.1 percent growth rate reported for the July-September quarter.
AP Economics Writer Josh Boak contributed to this report.
Follow Chris Rugaber on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/ChrisRugaber
- From 0.3 to 81.1: What percentage of each...
- Oil slicks found in hunt for Malaysia jet...
- Rutgers faculty council pushes for school to...
- Report: Ukraine base in Crimea under siege
- Half of millennials more likely to lean...
- Small town residents: Chevron pizza 'scandal'...
- Russian President Vladimir Putin declares...
- Survey: Cost a growing factor in college...
- No longer loyal to Boy Scouts of... 52
- Obama administration allows 2-year... 28
- Putin: Russia has right to use force in... 21
- Disney ending funding to Boy Scouts in... 21
- Half of millennials more likely to lean... 13
- Obama appeals to Democrats in 2015... 12
- Former IRS official Lois Lerner again... 11
- Ukrainian software professionals... 10