Employers in the United States added just 110,000 workers to their payrolls in March.
That was way below even the worst forecasts by economists and it compared with an increase of 243,000 jobs in February. Payroll growth in February and January was also revised downwards.
However, the jobless rate fell to 5.2% from 5.4% in the previous month. The industries that added jobs in the past month included construction, mining, health care and wholesale trade. The number of manufacturing jobs shrank for the sixth time in the last seven months and retailers also shed workers. The 110,000 extra jobs in March was the smallest gain in the US since last July.
The figures presented another mixed picture of the hiring climate in the world’s biggest economy.
The job market has been the sector that has been among the slowest to recover from the last recession.
The latest figures should ease concerns about inflation causing the US economy to overheat, but it also raises worries about the strength of the country’s economic expansion.