December job creation ended 2016 on a steady and strong note with a reading of 33, matching the measure's high since January 2008. After bottoming out in 2009 amid the global financial crisis, U.S. job creation has steadily improved -- surpassing its pre-recession high of +26 in 2014. The index plateaued in 2015 after years of steady gains, but managed to tick higher to its peak of +33 in May 2016. The index has registered this same high score in nearly every month since. All four regions of the country -- the West (+34), South (+33), Midwest (+33) and East (+31) -- ended the year with slightly stronger hiring rates than they had at the start of 2016.