U.S. job growth slowed sharply in March, but a drop in the unemployment rate to a near ten-year low suggested the labor market was still tightening. Fred Katayama reports.
Job growth slowed sharply in the U.S. in March. The Labor Department said nonfarm payrolls added only 98,000 jobs last month, the fewest since last May That's a sharp slowdown from January and February which each added more than 200,000 jobs. Behind the drop - layoffs in the retail sector and a slowdown in hiring at construction sites, factories, and leisure and hospitality businesses. Also to blame - cold weather and a storm in the Northeast. Bankrate.com's senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick. (SOUNDBITE) MARK HAMRICK, SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, BANKRATE, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "While this was a disappointing hiring number, we believe that we should continue to see a similar pace of hiring in the coming months. And, I think, we can probably chock this down to perhaps some catchup in the sense that we saw stronger than expected reports in the first two months of the year and now a weaker than expected report. The average that it'll allow looks a lot like the trend over the course of 2016." Average hourly earnings also grew at a gradual rate of 2.7 percent. Another set of data showed the unemployment rate dipped to 4.5 percent in March from 4.7 percent in February. That's the lowest level since 2007.