National Unemployment Takes a Dip, But Hiring Slows

Employers in the U.S. added just 98,000 jobs in March, the fewest in an entire year, though the unemployment rate fell to a nearly decade-long low of 4.5 percent.

The unemployment rate fell because nearly a half-million more Americans reported finding jobs throughout the course of the last month, the Labor Department said in a report Friday.

The government also revised down the job growth for January and February by a combined 38,000. It reports that average hourly earnings rose 0.2 percent in March from February and 2.7 percent over the past year.

  • Last month, construction companies added just 6,000 jobs, the fewest in seven months. 
  • Retailers, suffering from the shift to online shopping, slashed 30,000 jobs. 
  • Education and health care services added the fewest jobs for that category in 15 months.

The economy appears to have slowed in the first three months of the year, though most economists expect a rebound in the current April-June quarter.

But the unemployment rate hasn't been so low since May 2007, before the financial crisis. Still, the proportion of Americans who are either working or looking for work remains far below pre-recession levels.

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