Job growth slows to a six-month low in March

Applicants line up for the opening of the job fair held by Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta on March 27

Analysts said the cold weather may have contributed to the slowdown, which was anticipated to some degree after February's blockbuster gains. On Friday, the Labor Department will release its report on how many jobs US employers added in March.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised estimates for prior months, resulting in a net loss of jobs.

Economists had expected the USA job market to slow down from February's fast pace, with a consensus predicting from 180,000 to 190,000 new jobs.

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

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". This month, 323,000 got added to the "not in labor force" number and the civilian labor force declined by 158,000. The average hourly wage rose 2.7 percent from a year earlier. Macroeconomic Advisers' most recent tracking estimate was 1.5 percent growth; the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's "GDPNow" forecasting model has it at 2.3 percent.

"This jobs report should not change anyone's views on the outlook for monetary policy", said Neil Dutta, an economist at Renaissance Macro, following the report.

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

Employment increased in manufacturing, health care, and mining.

Snowstorms and floods in the northeast are likely to have played a part in the weaker gain in March, with jobs in the construction sector falling by 15,000.

Paul Ashworth, chief USA economist at Capital Economics, said Friday's report, "is a good illustration of the inherent volatility in the non-farm payroll data".

Employers created 103,000 jobs in March missing expectations while the unemployment rate remained steady at 4.1%.

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