Wages in the US grew at their fastest pace since 2009 last month, pointing to continued momentum in the labour market and putting the country on course for a string of interest rate rises this year. Average hourly earnings increased by 2.9pc compared with the year before, the largest annual increase in more than seven years, while 156,000 jobs were created in December. Although the employment figure fell short of the 178,000 widely expected by economists, it was enough to suggest that the economy is steaming ahead. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7pc in December, from a nine-year low of 4.6pc in November, as more people entered the labour market, in a sign of confidence in the economic recovery. Over the course of 2016, more than two million jobs were created in the US. This set of jobs data will be the last for President Obama, as he makes way for Donald Trump, who is set to take office later this month. President elect Trump has pledged to increase spending on the country's infrastructure, cut taxes and reduce red tape, three measures widely expected to boost growth this year. The US jobs market is expected to hit full employment this year, and the country's central bank, the Federal Reserve, is set to push through interest rate rises in response. Last month, the Fed increased the benchmark rate by .25 percentage points to a range of 0.25pc to 0.50pc. A further three rate increases are forecast for this year. Kully Samra, managing director of Charles Schwab in the UK, said that despite December’s numbers missing forecasts, the US economy still had a robust labour market.