Employers Added 88,000 Jobs in March, Far Fewer Than Expected

A job seeker looks over his resume before seeing recruiters at a United Career Fairs in New York, U.S. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg
Jin Lee/BloombergA job seeker looks over his resume before seeing recruiters at a United Career Fairs in New York.
By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON -- American employers hired at the slowest pace in nine months in March, a sign that Washington's austerity drive could be stealing momentum from the economy.

The economy added just 88,000 jobs last month and the jobless rate ticked a tenth of a point lower to 7.6 percent largely due to people dropping out of the work force, Labor Department data showed on Friday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a gain of 200,000.

The slower pace of growth in payrolls marks a steep reversal of the recent trend in which the labor market appeared to be stepping up its pace of recovery. It also comes after Washington increased taxes in January and just as across-the-board federal budget cuts began in March.

"When you get to numbers below 100,000, you have to start worrying," Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics in London, said before the data was released.

The slowdown in job growth could make policymakers at the Federal Reserve more confident about continuing a bond-buying stimulus program. Discussion at the central bank has been growing over whether to dial back the purchases, perhaps as soon as this summer.

Analysts have noted that the federal spending cuts have only just begun and will be a more substantial drag on the economy between April and June, when many government workers begin taking days off work without pay.

Government payrolls fell only 7,000 in March, reversing the 14,000-job gain from February.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has said the labor market must show sustained improvement before monetary stimulus is eased, has voiced concern about the spending cuts.

The jobless rate fell as the labor force shrank by 496,000 people. The unemployment rate is derived from a survey of households which is separate from the survey of employer payrolls. The household survey actually showed employment fell by 206,000 in March.

The drop in the labor force sent the share of the population that is either employed or looking for work to 63.3 percent, its lowest since 1979.

Reporting by Jason Lange; editing by Andre Grenon.

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The economy is just fine. Just ask the cast of clowns, Obama, Harry Reid, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, and Nancy Pelosi.

April 06 2013 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obama lied and cooked the books last November so as to win the election, now the truth comes out. The country is on the brink of total melt down and Obama is a clueless idiot.

April 05 2013 at 10:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, unbelieveable.

April 05 2013 at 3:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Americans you should be ashamed of what is happening in this country, Socialism will NOT work it never has, Look at the rest of the socialists country, BANKRUPT. BROKE Money does not grow on trees, You have to work and pay taxes. You cant live on handouts and expect the government to pay your way .The money is NOT there. STUPIDS!

April 05 2013 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike at home

Their is a lot of uncertanity in the world today. And with budgets tight for most families they dont want to purchase what they do not really need
looking at it another way is less global warming from less demand

April 05 2013 at 12:03 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

We are watching the fruits of the labors of millions of adoring Obama fas who believed that 4 more years of big government progressive politics would give us prosperity.For all the GOP haters out there get ready for a very RUDE surprise ext year.

April 05 2013 at 11:24 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

The only reason that the unemployment figure went down is because people have STOPPED looking for a job or they are so underemployed with part time jobs. But that will change of course when he hires all the Acorn and Union people to be "navigators" for the Obamacare to help people get healthcare (which could be done by the private sector) They will make anywhere from $20 to $40 an hour. And then when they let the millions of illegals coming in to work that will make his figures look good. He has made a total mess of domestic and foreign affiars.

April 05 2013 at 10:02 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lasml's comment

500 million have joined the ranks of the Obama dependent class.

April 05 2013 at 12:51 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

The nightmare Obama economy...and more of the same is yet to come... Part time hrs will be cut, employers will do all they can to keep from hiring.

April 05 2013 at 9:56 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply