Analysts blamed the plunge in oil prices as well as the difficult winter across the Northeast and Midwest, a combination that put a crimp on spending in the energy patch and held back consumer spending and construction.
This is how the report breaks down...
- Nonfarm payrolls rose 126,000 last month the Labor Department said last Friday.
- The goods producing sector, which had been hurt by a strong dollar and lower crude oil prices, shed 13,000 jobs in March.
- The unemployment rate held at a more than 6-1/2-year low of 5.5 percent which is what economists polled forcasted.
- Hourly wages, one of the bright spots in the report, rose 0.3 percent for private sector workers in March
- Prices for U.S. government debt rose as investors further pushed back their expectations for a Fed rate hike this year.
- The U.S. dollar did however fall against a basket of currencies and U.S. stock index futures slipped.
- The U.S. central bank has appeared keen to raise its key overnight lending rate, which it has kept near zero since December 2008.
- The economy's recent numbers has led investors to push back bets on the rate lift-off. Some believe the Fed could even wait until 2016.
- March's middling increase in payrolls ended 12 straight months of job gains above 200,000, which had been the longest streak since 1994.
- Gross domestic product estimates for the first quarter are as low as a 0.6 percent annual pace, but the slowdown is expected to be temporary.
- Labor force participation rate, or the share of working-age Americans who are employed or at least looking for a job, slipped one-tenth of a percentage point to 62.7 percent last month, other measures on the Fed's so-called dashboard continued to improve.
- People who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment fell to a more than 6-1/2-year low of 10.9 percent from 11 percent in February.
- The number of Americans unemployed for 27 weeks or longer also declined further.
- The average work week fell to 34.5 hours last month from 34.6 in February.
- Housing prices have also continued their slow but steady recovery.
Here are some of the views of economic annalists about the jobs numbers...
Alan Ruskin, global head of G10 FX strategy at Deutsche Bank in New York says...
"It is very likely that weather has been part of the story, but the latest numbers bring payrolls more in line with other data that signals some underlying slowing,"
Thomas E. Perez, the secretary of labor says...
“It was lower than expectations, without a doubt,” said “But I’ve always said that one month never makes a trend,”
Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisers in Kalamazoo, Michigan says...
"There's no question that the economy is showing the negative effects of the stronger dollar and the collapse in oil prices. Corporate profits have come under pressure, and hiring has been adjusted in response,"
Mr. Tilley of Wilmington Trust remained optimistic says...
“Although disappointing, we don’t think it portends a turnaround for the U.S. economy,”