US Job Growth Slows Much More Than Expected In March

A construction worker walked along One Dalton in Boston which is under construction

By industry, the largest gains were seen in education and health services as well as professional and business services, the two areas that are most often leaders in terms of monthly job gains.

Economists had expected the report to show 185,000 jobs were created in March while the unemployment rate was expected to fall to 4%, according to estimates from Bloomberg.

Retailers lost 4,000 jobs net in March, after having increased by 47,000 in February. Economists are stumped about why worker pay isn't growing faster, given that unemployment is at its lowest rate in 18 years.

March unemployment held at 4.1%, whereas analysts expected a decline to 4%.

Still, hiring in January was revised sharply lower to 176,000, while February's figure was revised higher to a blockbuster 326,000.

Even sectors that posted gains, such as manufacturing, healthcare and mining, saw job creation slow while government hiring was negligible.


US hiring increased the smallest in six months in March, while wages picked up, signaling a still tightening labor market.

Temperatures returned to normal in March, with snowstorms in some parts of the country. Average hourly earnings for private-sector production and non-supervisory employees increased by 4 cents to $22.42 in March.

A broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time positions for economic reasons - the underemployed - fell two-tenths of a point to 8 percent, its lowest reading in 11 years. The average work week was unchanged at 34.5 hours. "Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.7 percent".

"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 Fed increased borrowing costs last month and forecast two more interest rate hikes this year. If markets continue to roil over tariff battles, the capital that might have otherwise gone into job creation might get set aside - or may evaporate altogether, at least in the short run. If this extends for more than a month, it's going to set up some unpleasant expectations for November.

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