U.S. Job Growth Slows Much More Than Expected In March

Ross Houston
April 9, 2017

The US unemployment rate fell to its lowest in nearly a decade in March, despite the economy adding a smaller than expected number of jobs.

Overall nonfarm payrolls rose by 98,000 jobs, the slowest pace in almost a year, though the unemployment rate dropped to 4.5%, its lowest since May of 2007, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The job gains last month, while tepid, occurred in better-paying industries, such as manufacturing and a category that includes accounting, engineering and other professional services.

Retailers are cutting jobs because the future looks bleak; they're consolidating in order to survive. This was a miss even to their less optimistic original expectations. In addition, job creation numbers over the past two months were revised down by 38,000 and the average workweek shrank.

The U.S. added 98,000 jobs in March, down from the gains of more than 215,000 jobs seen in both January and February. The retail trade sector lost 30,000 jobs. The unemployment rate for teens dropped to 13.7 per cent from 15 per cent. That follows a 7-cent increase in February.

The March payroll gains compare with last year's average of 187,000 a month, a pace that analysts had forecast to decline to 181,000 in 2017. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors. Another view on the labor force participation rate remained flat at 63.0% in March, and the employment-population ratio was at 60.1%. Last month, Sears warned that there is "substantial doubt" it will survive.

Friday's report from the Labor Department also said the unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percent, to 4.5 percent. ― Reuters picWASHINGTON, April 7 ― The US unemployment rate fell in March to 4.5 per cent, its lowest level in almost 10 years, but job creation tumbled unexpectedly, government data showed today. Financial activities saw a gain of 9,000 jobs. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.7%. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not now looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

The number of Americans either working or looking for work in the past month hit a record high of 160,201,000, according to numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But economists are already calling it a one month "blip" that may be due to winter weather.

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