The U.S. economy added 196,000 jobs in March while the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.8 percent, making March the 102nd straight month of job growth, according to Department of Labor data released Friday.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected that the jobs report would show solid growth by 175,000 jobs and for the unemployment rate to remain steady at 3.8 percent, well below the benchmark 4 percent that economists consider to be “full employment.” (RELATED: Unemployment Claims Hit 50-Year Low)
The March jobs report comes on the heels of a slow February when just 33,000 jobs were added. Economists took February’s low number as a sign that a slowdown may be hitting the economy. The March numbers came in above economists’ expectations and much higher than the 100,000 benchmark that would have signaled employers capping growth. The March numbers suggest that the February slip may have been an isolated event rather than the beginning of a trend, according to WSJ.
“The lesson of this recovery is that the labor market keeps chugging on despite whatever turmoil happens around it,” Martha Gimbel, the research director at the job-search site Indeed, told The New York Times.
The February slip came after an unusually strong performance in January when employers added 312,000 new jobs, according to revised numbers in the March jobs report.
The number of Americans claiming unemployment insurance hit a 50-year low Thursday. The Labor Department reported a drop of about 10,000 in jobless claims, bring the overall number to roughly 202,000, the lowest number on record since Dec. 6, 1969.
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