The U.S. economy sent more confusing signals in December, adding just 199,000 jobs while pushing the unemployment rate down to a new pandemic low, according to the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report.

It was the second month where job growth came in well below expectations — economists had forecast more than 400,000 jobs added in the month — while the unemployment rate sank, from 4.2 percent in November to 3.9 percent. That means unemployment is nearing what was a 50-year-low of 3.5 percent achieved in February 2020.

The October and November initial reports, with 546,000 and 210,000 jobs added, respectively, were revised upward by a combined 141,000 jobs….