US added 103000 jobs in March; rate stays 4.1 pct

Applicants line up for the opening of the job fair held by Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta on March 27

Employers added 103,000 positions to the USA workforce in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday - the smallest workforce increase since last fall.

Local jobless numbers for March won't be available for a few more weeks, but in February, Massachusetts added 13,700 jobs, including 13,100 private-sector jobs, according to statistics. Over the past six months, the average monthly gain has been 205,000, up from an average of 176,000 in the previous six months.

Wage growth accelerated slightly.

March's unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent, the report said, and the number of unemployed Americans remained relatively constant, at 6.6 million.

Wage data came in in-line with expectations, however, as average hourly earnings rose 0.3% over the prior month and 2.7% over the prior year.

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Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for interest rate tracking website Bankrate.com, said that the March report from the US Labor Department, looked at in isolation, was "on the disappointing side".

Economists on Friday suggested there are a number of possible reasons for the hiring slow down. Last month, some hailed a massive return to the civilian workforce suggested by the jobs report, with the Household survey adding 806,000 to the workforce and showing that 653,000 left the "not in labor force" statuses in February.

While the official unemployment rate held steady for a sixth-straight month in March, the underemployment rate, which captures those out of work and those who want full-time work but are working part-time, moved down to 8% in March after having hit 8.2% the prior month.

The average workweek for all employees was unchanged at 34.5 hours in March. The economy grew at a 2.9 percent pace in the fourth quarter. Investors expected two more rate hikes this year.

Manufacturing jobs increased by 22,000 over the month, with all of the gain in the durable goods sector. Economists do not see an impact on hiring in the near-term from the stock market selloff, which has caused a tightening in financial conditions. If markets continue to roil over tariff battles, the capital that might have otherwise gone into job creation might get set aside - or may evaporate altogether, at least in the short run.

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