The US economy added only 126,000 jobs in March – a gain far lower than January and February.
The slower gains mark a break from a 12-month streak where employers added over 200,000 jobs each month.
Severe winter weather, factory slowdowns, and dull construction activity contributed to low numbers.
The unemployment rate held at 5.5%, the US Department of Labor said.
Factories shed 1,000 jobs after 19-months of hiring, while the construction industry broke a 15-month streak with same number of losses.
Restaurant hiring took a sharp downward turn, while the sector for mining, logging, and oil drilling lost 11,000 jobs.
Wage growth was unexceptional. Average hourly wages rose just $0.07 – a year-over-year rise of 2.1%.
People in the US worked fewer hours on average in March than they did in February, meaning their actual earnings fell.
Many Americans are out of the labour force, due in part to the large number of so-called “baby boomers” who are reaching retirement age.
In March, only 62.7% of Americans were working or looking for work – a figured tied with the lowest rate since 1978.
Cheaper gasoline and past job growth have not yet boosted consumer spending, and modest wage gains have burdened the US economy since the Great Recession ended nearly six years ago.
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