U.S. employers added 196,000 jobs in March, beating Wall Street's expectations for an increase of 180,000, likely quelling some fears about an impending economic slowdown on the heels of a measly month for job creation.
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The unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent, while the labor force participation rate was also little unchanged at 63 percent. Average hourly earnings, meanwhile, rose by 4 cents to $27.70, following a 10-cent gain in February. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by about 3.2 percent, missing expecations of 3.4 percent growth.
The job creation in March marks the 118th month of straight gains.
Investors were closely watching on Friday for signs of a softening economy -- in February, the economy added a disappointing 33,000 jobs -- but expected to see positive signals for stronger consumer spending and overall positive economic growth in the months ahead.
The report also likely provides the Federal Reserve additional fodor to remain on its dovish track of not raising interest rates for the remainder of 2019.
“With job growth still robust and the yield curve inversion vanished, the Fed should not feel much economic pressure to lower rates,” Robert Frick, a corporate economist at the Navy Federal Credit Union, said.
Private sector hiring cooled last month, with non-farm payroll increasing by 129,000, far lower than the expected 170,000.