The United States economy posted disappointing job growth in March. Employers added only 88,000 jobs in March after adding 268,000 jobs in February, confirming fears of a cooling job market which may continue over the coming months.
The report, released by the Labor Department on Friday showed that tat the unemployment rate dipped to 7.6 percent, the slowest since last June and less than half of what economists expected.
"The general tenor of the report underscores what our overall data have been indicating - a growing but not accelerating economy," said Steven Blitz, director and chief economist at ITG Investment Research.
March's job gains were less than half the average of the previous six months, when the economy added an average of 196,000 jobs a month. The government said hiring was even stronger in January and February than previously estimated. January's job growth was revised up from 119,000 to 148,000. February's was revised from 236,000 to 268,000.
"This was an ugly report as the expected number was about 190,000," said Joe "JJ" Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist with TD Ameritrade. "The major area of concern is the loss of jobs in the Retail sector. When taken with the recent disappointment in ISM and housing numbers this may cause a reassessment of what we feel currently about the economy."
"That was a very bleak time in our economy and we are certainly not at that level but the fact that people are not participating in the workforce will quickly cause concern in the housing and retail markets," Kinahan added.
The Labor report also noted that temporary workers increased by 20,000. The addition of contingent workers also typically foreshadows stronger permanent hiring. And the number of Americans out of work at least six months fell from 4.8 million to 4.6 million. They still comprise nearly 40 percent of all the unemployed.