Employers Added a Modest 103000 Jobs in March

Javier Stokes
April 7, 2018

"Considering how tight the labor market is in terms of the unemployment rate and [slow] population growth, it's hard to maintain 200,000 jobs being added every month", said Cathy Barrera, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.

The report also said the unemployment rate came in at 4.1 percent in March, unchanged from the five previous months.

Analysts said the cold weather may have contributed to the slowdown, which was anticipated to some degree after February's blockbuster gains.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 103,000 last month as construction and retail sectors shed jobs, the Labor Department said on Friday. "The job market is widely regarded to be close to full employment". The gain lifted the annual increase in average hourly earnings to 2.7 percent from 2.6 percent in February.

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With labor market slack diminishing, wage growth picked up a bit in March. The unemployment rate had been expected to edge down to 4.0 percent. The growth has pushed the unemployment rate to its lowest level since 2000. The figure fell far short of predictions and followed a blockbuster February that saw 326,000 jobs added.

The US economy has been adding jobs consistently since 2010, one of the longest expansions on record.

Meanwhile, worker wages rose faster than economists had predicted, rising 0.3 per cent for the month to US$26.82 (S$35.35). The gain lifted the annual increase in average hourly earnings to 2.7 percent from 2.6 percent in February.

The Fed increased borrowing costs last month and forecast two more interest rate hikes this year. Economists do not see an impact on hiring in the near-term from the stock market selloff, which has caused a tightening in financial conditions. If this extends for more than a month, it's going to set up some unpleasant expectations for November.

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