US employers add fewest jobs in six months

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Areas that saw job gains included manufacturing, health care and mining, the government report said. Employment declined 15,000 in construction and 4,000 in retail trades.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate remained 4.1 percent, a 17-year low, for a sixth straight month.

Unemployment for teenagers fell from 14.4 percent to 13.5 percent, while the jobless rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult women (3.7 percent), Asians (3.1 percent), blacks (6.9 percent), Hispanics (5.1 percent) and whites (3.6 percent) stayed about the same. This is also followed an upwardly revised 326,000 surge in February.

Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed, said Friday that while March's total job gains are fewer than expected and on the surface appear to be a disappointment, this level of job growth is "more than enough to keep up with the slow-growing working-age population".

The surging pace of hiring has defied expectations that the low unemployment rate meant employers would struggle to fill positions, which, in turn, would restrain job growth. Still, the expansion has been puzzlingly slow, with economic growth averaging just 2.2 percent a year, about a percentage point below the historical average. Last month, some hailed a massive return to the civilian workforce suggested by the jobs report, with the Household survey adding 806,000 to the workforce and showing that 653,000 left the "not in labor force" statuses in February.

Temperatures returned to normal in March, with snowstorms in some parts of the country.

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Average hourly earnings rose by 8 cents, settling at $26.82.

Average hourly pay grew by 2.7 percent year-over-year, an improvement over February's 2.6 percent but still short of what's expected in a tight labor market with low unemployment.

The average workweek for all employees was unchanged at 34.5 hours in March.

He added, "The upshot is that even though March was weaker than we were expecting, there is still evidence of an acceleration in the underlying pace of employment growth".

The Fed increased borrowing costs last month and forecast two more interest rate hikes this year.

That mainly took place in the final days of the month, however. Unless the issues get resolved quickly, we may be seeing a stasis in job creation that could hamper the positive impact of the administration's other economic policies, especially the tax cuts.

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