A not-so-great unemployment report Friday: US employers added just 98,000 jobs last month, the fewest in a year, though the unemployment rate fell to an almost seven-year low of 4.5%, reports the AP. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell because nearly a half-million more Americans found jobs. (The number of people working and the new jobs count are done by separate surveys.) Economists had expected a fall-off in hiring after job gains in January and February had averaged a robust 237,000, but March's number still fell well below analysts' expectations of 180,000 new jobs, reports USA Today.
As it turns out, the January and February numbers weren't as strong as initially thought, notes the Wall Street Journal. February was revised downward to 219,000 and January to 216,000, "taking some luster" off the initial reports. Construction firms added 6,000 jobs in March, the fewest in seven months. Retailers, suffering from the ongoing shift to online shopping, slashed 30,000 jobs. Education and health care services added the fewest jobs 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.