Job growth slows to a six-month low in March

March Jobs Report: Everything You Need to Know

U.S. employment growth in March was weaker than market expectations.

A separate survey of households released by BLS reveals that the March unemployment rate remained steady at 4.1 percent for the sixth consecutive month; 4.1 percent is the lowest unemployment rate since December 2000. Last year, employment increased by 128,400, which is equivalent to nearly 500 new jobs, on average, per working day. Employers have added a healthy average of 211,000 jobs a month in the past six months.

Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed, said Friday that while March's total job gains are fewer than expected and on the surface appear to be a disappointment, this level of job growth is "more than enough to keep up with the slow-growing working-age population". But he added: "In my view, if we get into a tariff tussle, it would be the worst scenario for the Fed: It could diminish growth and increase inflation".

Edward Daniel, chief executive of Metropolitan Health Services, says he's raised pay and sweetened benefits to try to fill his 740-person company's roughly 80 open jobs.

The unemployment rate is expected to dip to 4% and average hourly earnings to rise 0.3% after February's 0.1% increase. Both figures were an improvement from February.

Job creation since then has been in line with analysts' expectations, with the latest gains driven mostly by the hiring of full-time staff.

The unemployment rate has hovered at 4.1 per cent since October as people piled into the labor market.

"The declaration by Trump that he has instructed the US Trade Representative to consider another $100 billion of tariffs under section 301 has once again sent markets lower, although not as much as previous tariff announcements have", noted Craig Erlam at online trading platform operator Oanda.

The Dow Jones fell 572 points, or 2.3%, to close at 23,933 while the broader-based S&P 500 index plunged 58 points (2.2%) to 2,604.

Treasury yields were staging a slight rally, with the 10-year yield hovering near 2.8% and the 2-year yield sitting near 2.28%.

A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part time because they can not find full-time employment, fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 8.0 percent last month. That was the smallest gain since last September and followed a 326,000 surge in February, which was the largest in more than two years.

"Even though March was weaker than we were expecting, there is still evidence of an acceleration in the underlying pace of employment growth", Paul Ashworth, chief USA economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.

If job numbers like February's had become the norm, it would have had major political implications, in making the tax law passed at the end of 2017 look like an economic boon and suggesting the United States economy was in a boom that could enable it to weather whatever damage a trade war might incur.

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