WASHINGTON -- The U.S. economy added 155,000 jobs in November, falling short of expectations for more robust growth, and the unemployment rate stayed at a 49-year low of 3.7 percent, federal economists reported Friday.

Even in the face of economic curveballs -- trade tensions, jittery markets, hurricanes -- hiring has remained strong overall as 2018 wraps up: American employers have added more than 200,000 jobs in four of the past six months.

Analysts predict that payroll growth in 2018 is on track to beat the previous year's average monthly gains of 182,000 positions and could surpass 2016's particularly solid levels (195,000).

“With the equity markets yo-yoing for the past few months, today’s generally solid jobs report reminds us that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong despite global headwinds,” said Tony Bedikian, whose Global Markets team at Citizens Bank helps companies manage interest rate, foreign exchange and commodity pricing risks. “The yield curve may be signaling recession worries and trade war concerns, but the unemployment rate remains at a 49-year low, average wages continue to rise and it’s clear that consumers are spending, which is why the Fed is still widely expected to raise rates later this month.”

Some economists worry 2018's pace of growth isn't sustainable next year with such a tight labor market. The unemployment rate reached 3.7 percent in September and held that near-half-century low in October.

Some employers complain that a talent shortage is thwarting their growth plans, asserting that it is increasingly difficult to find people with the right skills.

That's good news for employees, though. Heightened competition seems to be driving up wages after years of lagging since the Great Recession.

The Labor Department's October jobs report showed the typical worker's earnings had grown by 3.1 percent in the past year -- the biggest jump since 2009. Wage growth stuck to that level in November.

Health care, construction, transportation and warehousing have led the recent hiring spree, and manufacturing has seen unusually high levels of growth, with an increase of 296,000 jobs over the past year.

Production jobs in durable goods -- washing machine, refrigerators, microwaves, air conditioners -- has fueled much of that upswing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),suggesting people have more money to spend on big-ticket items.

Still, some economists caution that not every worker is reaping the benefits. Labor leaders say wage growth among service workers is lacking. Some blamed declining union membership and the rise of subcontractors, which has cramped pay and access to paid time off and health insurance.

Service workers "don't have the leverage to take advantage of tight labor markets," said AFL-CIO chief economist Bill Spriggs.

Employment in the private sector looked healthy in November, payrolls processor ADP reported Thursday, with employers recording 179,000 new positions. (October's ADP count was revised down to 225,000 from 227,000.)

The economy added 250,000 new positions in October, per the BLS figures, largely making up for jobs lost during Hurricane Florence's brutal September run through the Carolinas.

President Donald Trump celebrated the recovery, telling reporters last month, "That was shocking for a number of people, and that was a tremendous number by any standard."

The trade war with Beijing, however, continues to rattle investors.

Though Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared to reach a temporary truce during their dinner in Argentina this past weekend -- Trump agreed to hold off on a tariff increase scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 -- reports Wednesday that a prominent Chinese executive was arrested in Canada at U.S. request have dampened optimism around negotiations.

"Trade tensions are starting to eat at business confidence," said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at the financial services company Stifel. "We've seen a pullback in terms of investment. Businesses are starting to question whether they do want to take on that additional hire."

Meanwhile, Trump's tariffs have not shrunk the U.S. trade deficit. That gap hit $55.5 billion in October, a 10-year high, new Commerce Department data showed Thursday. Plunging soybean exports to China played a role -- sales of the crop overall fell by $800 million.