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

IndustriesAssociated 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.

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.

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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.