The US unemployment rate dropped from 4.7% in February to just 4.5% in March, its lowest level in nearly ten years, according to the US Labor Department.
A total of 98,000 jobs were added last month, which was fewer than what economists had forecast and half the number of jobs gained in January and February.
Hiring is believed to have been affected in March by weather-related factors. There was a major storm in the North East and colder than usual temperatures.
A rate of unemployment under 5% indicates that an economy is in “full employment”.
The number of jobs created in February was revised down from 235,000 to 219,000, while the figure for January was revised down from 238,000 to 216,000.
“The disappointing gain in nonfarm payrolls in March is a bit of a head fake that doesn’t reflect the underlying strength and momentum in the labor market,” Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Average hourly wages climbed up to $26.14 and average weekly wages rose to $896.60 in March.
Aberdeen Asset Management investment strategist Luke Bartholomew, told the BBC that “the slowdown in payroll growth is exactly what you would expect when the economy closes in on full employment.”
Neil Wilson at ETX Capital said that “the overall trend remains one of very strong job creation – and it’s still a decent number that is way above the paltry 38,000 registered in June 2016.”