US adds fewer jobs than expected, unemployment rate holds at 17-year low

  • The US economy added 103,000 nonfarm payrolls in March, fewer than economists’ forecast for 185,000.
  • Still, job growth in the first quarter was stronger than it was in the same quarter last year, suggesting that many people on the sidelines, such as stay-at-home parents, have begun seeking and finding jobs.
  • Wage growth in March improved from February, and the unemployment rate, at 4.1%, remained at its lowest since 2000.

The US economy added 103,000 nonfarm payrolls in March, its fewest in six months, according to the jobs report released by the Bureau of Labour Statistics on Friday. The unemployment rate held at 4.1%, its lowest level since December 2000.

The number of jobs added in March was sharply down from the upwardly revised 326,000 for February. Still, job growth in the first quarter of 2018 was stronger than it was in the same quarter last year, suggesting that many working-age people on the sidelines, such as stay-at-home parents, have begun looking for and finding jobs. The so-called U-6 unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers and people working part-time jobs who would prefer full-time work, fell to an 11-year low of 8%.

Economists had forecast that employers added 185,000 payrolls last month, according to Bloomberg.

Wage growth increased from February, with average hourly earnings increasing by 0.3% month-on-month and 2.7% year-on-year, in line with what economists had predicted. An unexpected jump in January had alarmed investors to the prospect of rising inflation and faster interest-rate increases from the Federal Reserve, but wage growth since then has moderated.

Hiring was strong in manufacturing, healthcare, and mining. After a hiring spree in February, the construction and retail sectors let go of more people than they brought on board in March. Cold and snowy weather during the week of the BLS’ survey may have slowed down the construction industry, which had its worst month in two years.

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