Losses lengthen after March jobs data jolt

A construction worker walked along One Dalton in Boston which is under construction

A construction worker walked along One Dalton in Boston which is under construction

The unemployment rate had been expected to edge down to 4.0 percent. There has been an increase in reports of employers, especially in the construction and manufacturing sectors, struggling to find qualified workers. Snowstorms in the Northeast probably restricted hours worked and kept people away from their jobs, and March may also have seen some payback after warmer temperatures boosted employment in February. Employers added 326,000 jobs that month - the largest monthly haul in two years. ADP, which calculates based on its own payroll services, had predicted a net gain of 241,000 jobs in March. The average hourly wage rose 2.7 percent from a year earlier.

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.

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.

A trader looks at a screen that displays the Dow Jones Industrial Average on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on 5 February 2018.

That was a slight acceleration from the previous month, but still below the rate of increase when the unemployment rate was last at this level.

March's job growth was below the 202,000 average of the past three months and matched to the roughly 100,000 jobs per month needed to keep up with growth in the working-age population.

And last month, factories expanded at a healthy pace after having grown in February at the fastest rate since 2004, according to a private survey. Most still expect employers to have to raise pay eventually to attract and retain workers. Most came from transportation equipment (8,000) and fabricated metal products (6,000), according to last month's government numbers. The influx of new workers, which gives employers more hiring options than a 4.1 percent unemployment rate might otherwise suggest, may also be holding back wage growth.

'The Fed will be primarily focused on the increase in average hourly earnings, ' said Paul Ashworth, chief USA economist at Capital Economics in Toronto.

The breakdown of data across industries showed manufacturing added 22,000 jobs.

"Today's overall jobs number is a little bit of a pullback, but it wasn't a horrific report".

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

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