March Jobs Report Misses The Mark, Only 98,000 Jobs Added

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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Ted Goodman Reporter

The U.S. economy added 98,000 new jobs in March, according to the jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday.

The labor force participation rate remained at 63 percent during President Donald Trump’s second full month in office.

The 98,000 jobs figure is significantly lower than Wall Street expectations of 175,000. The unemployment rate decreased slightly from February, ticking down from 4.7 percent to 4.5 percent.

The numbers may change expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates as the economy continues to experience moderate growth.

The Fed increased its benchmark interest rate a quarter of a point during its March 14 meeting, which was the second such increase in three months. The decision, which was expected by Wall Street, is a signal to some investors that the central bank remains hawkish under an improving economy.

“It is important for the public to understand that we’re getting closer to reaching our objectives,” Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said during a news conference following the March meeting. The Fed is expected to increase rates again in June, which would only be the fourth rate hike since the Great Recession.

The new numbers come just hours after the United States launched over 50 Tomahawk missiles into Syria from naval assets in the Mediterranean Thursday evening. The attacks led to gains in gold, oil and government bonds, while the Russian Ruble dropped over concerns of a dragged out conflict with the West.

While Wall Street seemed to be riding high with the new administration, expectations were tapered after Wall Street grew concerned with President Donald Trump’s ability to push forward with his agenda after the failed health care vote.

The business community is ready to work with the president on infrastructure, tax, and regulatory reform. The service sector that saw the greatest job growth included construction, financial services and manufacturing.

Construction rose by 6,000 in March and have been trending up over the past six months. Employment in financial services by 9,000 in March, with most of the gains coming in support activities for mining.

Retail trade employment dropped by 30,000 in March, likely due to the end of the holiday shopping season.

Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government showed little or no change in February, according to the report.

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