Jobs Added in March

"Overall, looking through the volatility, employment growth is trending higher and wage growth is starting to heat up", said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics. And the government's jobs report suggested that the labor market remains fundamentally healthy.

Still, through the first three months of the year, employers have added an average of 202,000 workers to payrolls, outpacing 2017's average monthly growth of 182,000.

The March jobs report missed expectations big time, with just 103,000 new jobs added, versus expectations of around 190,000 additions. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3 percent after increasing 0.1 percent in February. That was the smallest gain since last September and followed a 326,000 surge in February, which was the largest in more than two years.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in Friday's monthly update on the nation's economic health.

Worries about tariffs haven't dampened the need for workers, Frankiewicz said, but they could be keeping pay down.

But the U.S. unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 per cent for the sixth month in a row and as wages rose faster than expected.

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Still, Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America, which connected job seekers to roughly 300,000 positions a year ago, said growth across the economy appears strong. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the economy adding 193,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate dropping to 4.0 percent. The unemployment rate has declined for those with any level of education since the President took office, including those with the fewest years of education, traditionally the group that has the most trouble finding employment.

The Dow, which prior to the release had been expected to open at around 24,242, is now tipped to start proceedings at around 24,293, presumably on the basis that the Fed will now slow down its interest rate hike program. On Thursday, Trump ordered his chief trade negotiator to consider imposing tariffs on an additional $100 billion of Chinese products. Meanwhile, the labor force fell by 158,000 in March, pushing the participation rate down to 62.9 percent.

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.

The return of cold weather and a shortage of skilled workers weighed on hiring at construction sites in March.

'The Fed will be primarily focused on the increase in average hourly earnings, ' said Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics in Toronto. The retail sector shed 4,400 jobs after adding 47,300 positions in February.

  • Rita Burton