U.S. Jobs Market Flunks March Performance Evaluation
The U.S. labor market turned in a March performance report Friday far below expectations, with its addition of just 126,000 new jobs.
Economists on average had expected 245,000 new nonfarm jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey.
On A Holiday
Stock futures fell and the dollar weakened on the news. Major exchanges were closed Friday for holiday observances.
During March, average hourly earnings rose by $0.07, or 0.28 percent, to $24.86 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The gain was slightly more than economists expected.
The average weekly paycheck of $857.67 wasn't meaningfully different from February's $857.73. During March, the average work week shortened by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours while factory overtime remained at 3.4 hours.
Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 197,000 per month, itself a slowdown from the recent 12-month average of 269,000. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1 percent.
The unemployment rate held at 5.5 percent, and the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 8.6 million. The labor force participation rate held steady at 62.7 percent.
Employment rose in in professional and business services and health care as well retail, while jobs in the mining sector declined.
Other major industries showed little change, including in food services, construction, manufacturing, financial activities, and government.
Median Home Prices
Also Friday, privately held RealtyTrac said the U.S. median home price in February increased 14 percent to $183,000 from a year ago, but was unchanged from January.
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