Momentum in U.S. jobs runs into a headwind

  • Momentum in U.S. jobs runs into a headwind

Momentum in U.S. jobs runs into a headwind

The unemployment rate stayed at 4.1%, the lowest since 2000. Mining added 9,000. Manufacturing and health each added 22,0000. Employers added 326,000 jobs that month - the largest monthly haul in two years. A separate government report last month showed that there was almost one open job for every unemployed person, the lowest ratio on records dating back two decades. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have risen by 71 cents, or 2.7%.

Despite the decline in the rate of hiring after several robust months, the nation's unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent for the sixth straight month. That is its lowest level in 11 years.

The job figures come as concern grows about a trade war between the United States and China.

"Even though March was weaker than we were expecting, there is still evidence of an acceleration in the underlying pace of employment growth", Paul Ashworth, chief USA economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.

The Fed increased borrowing costs last month and forecast two more interest rate hikes this year. A more volatile stock market?

The civilian labor force participation rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 62.9%. He is scheduled to speak at 12:30 p.m. local time in Chicago.

But pay growth slipped in February to a year-over-year pace of 2.6 percent, suggesting that employers are still avoiding giving broad pay raises to their workers.

'The Fed will be primarily focused on the increase in average hourly earnings, ' said Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics in Toronto. Retail, however, fell, with 4,400 jobs lost during the month.

Economists say annual wage growth of at least 3 percent is needed to lift inflation toward the Fed's 2 percent target.

A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part time because they can not find full-time employment, fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 8.0 percent last month.

For example, a rising number of working-age Americans have begun looking for a job and finding one, reversing a trend from the first few years after the recession when numerous unemployed grew discouraged and stopped looking for work.

The solid run of hiring and bigger after-tax paychecks will help sustain growth in consumer spending, which is nonetheless projected to cool in the first quarter following the strongest quarter in three years.