Hiring slump spread across industries in March; factories and construction firms shed workers

Economic Indicators Associated Press

The deceleration of hiring last month hit nearly all parts of the job market as U.S. employers grew wary about the health of the economy.

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The construction, manufacturing and government sectors all lost workers. Manufacturers cut 1,000 after a 19-month hiring streak. Construction jobs also fell by 1,000, the first decline in 15 months.

Other sectors posted slowdowns. The category that includes hotels and restaurants added just 17,000 workers after having hired 70,000 in February. The education and health sector gained 38,000, down from 57,000 in February.

A few categories managed to maintain momentum. Professional and business services — a sector that includes lawyers, accountants and office temps — added 40,000. Employers in transportation and warehousing gained 9,500, nearly matching February's figure.

Overall, U.S. employers added 126,000 jobs in March, the weakest showing since December 2013. So far this year, job gains have averaged 197,000 a month, down from 269,000 over the previous 12 months.

The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent.

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Industry (change from previous month) March 2015 February 2015 Year to date Past 12 months
Construction -1,000 29,000 28,000 282,000
Manufacturing -1,000 2,000 1,000 188,000
Retail 25,900 32,300 58,200 326,100
Transportation, warehousing 9,500 9,700 19,200 163,600
Information (Telecom, publishing) 2,000 7,000 9,000 59,000
Financial services 8,000 7,000 15,000 150,000
Professional services (Accounting, engineering, temp work) 40,000 42,000 82,000 662,000
Education and health 38,000 57,000 95,000 541,000
Hotels, restaurants, entertainment 13,000 70,000 83,000 490,000
Government -3,000 0 -3,000 72,000
Source: Labor Department