March Jobs Report: Another Big Month for Hiring?

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Leisure and hospitality employers added only 5,000 jobs last month, the least since September. Still, the steady influx of new workers, which gives employers more hiring options than the low unemployment rate might otherwise suggest, may be holding back overall pay growth. 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. The figure fell far short of predictions and followed a blockbuster February that saw 326,000 jobs added. ADP, which calculates based on its own payroll services, had predicted a net gain of 241,000 jobs in March. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have risen by 71 cents, or 2.7%.

America added 103,000 jobs in March, slower than previous months and well below expectations. Either way it's a big miss, and also on its own below the maintenance level of jobs required to keep unemployment in check in the long run. Sentiment was already soured by the United States and China renewing their trade spat, stoking fears that the tit-for-tat actions could spiral into a trade war. Wage growth is one of the few yardsticks in the job market not to pick up meaningfully in recent years.

On the corporate front, fashion retailer Urban Outfitters Inc (NASDAQ:URBN) dipped 1.5% to US$37.99 in pre-market trading after it was announced that David McCreight, the chief executive officer and president of the retailer's Anthropologie unit, would leave the company at the end of this month.

The Fed increased borrowing costs last month and forecast two more interest rate hikes this year.

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.

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Some higher-paying sectors still posted solid gains: Manufacturers added 22,000 jobs.

"Today's overall jobs number is a little bit of a pullback, but it wasn't a horrific report". That figure is still impressive, economists say, given that the nation is in its ninth year of economic expansion and the labor force is growing much more slowly than it was before the recession.

With available workers increasingly scarce, companies are going to greater lengths to find potential employees.

Though the economy likely slowed in the first three months of this year, economists expect growth will rebound in the coming months.