The unemployment picture darkened unexpectedly last month, with a mere 126,000 jobs created, the smallest job gain since December 2013. Economists had been expecting about 250,000. January and February jobs figures were revised downwards. January went from 239,000 to 201,000 and February’s from 295,000 to 264,000. The average for the last three months is 197,000, way down from the average of 324,000 in the last three months of 2014.
The unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent while wages ticked up .3 percent and the participation rate declined slightly to 62.7 percent.
The brutal winter experienced by much of the country didn’t help, nor did the slide in oil prices that has caused the oil rig count to decline. Mining jobs have declined by 30,000 this year. Of course, bad news for oil companies is good news for consumers who are benefiting from lower gas prices and thus have more disposable income.
As a result of the March jobs report, the Federal Reserve is likely to remain cautious about raising interest rates for a while.
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