The U.S. unemployment rate fell in March to 4.5 percent, its lowest level in almost 10 years, but job creation tumbled unexpectedly, underscoring the challenges President Donald Trump faces to fulfill his 25-million-job pledge.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 98,000 jobs last month as the retail sector shed employment for a second straight month, the Labor Department said on Friday, the fewest since last May.
The number of jobs created in February was revised down from 235,000 to 219,000, while the figure for January was revised down from 238,000 to 216,000.
With the unexpected decrease, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since hitting 4.4 percent in May of 2007.
In the past three months, employers have added an average of 178,000 jobs, roughly the same as last year's solid pace.
But in March, construction companies added just 6,000 jobs, the fewest in seven months.
Still, some areas of the economy are humming: Developers are building more homes, with construction starts up 7.5 percent in January and February compared with a year earlier.
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According to the minutes of Fed's policy meeting in March, central bank officials would continue to raise interest rates this year and consider reduce its balance sheet later this year, on the expectation that the economy is improving as expected.
"The 19K net job creation in March was almost driven by full time gains", he noted. The average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose four cents to $21.90. Retail trade lost 30,000 jobs, while manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, leisure and hospitality, and information saw little change during the month, it said. Meanwhile, online retailers, the big competitors to physical stores, gained 2,200 jobs.
The employment rate rose to 65 per cent last month from 64.4 per cent past year. That was thanks mostly to a decline in the short-term unemployed, or those out of work and seeking a job for less than five weeks.
The PayScale Index, which measures the change in wages for employed USA workers, forecast 3.2 percent year-over-year wage growth for Q1 2017.
Professional and business services added 56,000 jobs last month, in line with monthly averages for the past year.
Weather-related disruptions to the economy could have slowed hiring in March, and employers could be finding it more hard to fill job openings as labor market slack diminishes.
"Employment in the province has been on an upward trend since the autumn of 2016, following a strong downward trend which began in 2015", Statistics Canada said in a release.