Employment Growth in March Slows Down

By Toni Vranjes

April 3, 2015

After months of strong job gains, the pace slowed down last month — and low oil prices likely contributed to the weaker number.

Employment grew by 126,000 in March — down from 264,000 jobs in February, and 201,000 for January, according to revised government figures.

The payroll number fell below economists’ expectations. According to IHS Global Insight, the consensus estimate for March was 250,000.

The jobless rate remained at 5.5 percent last month, while average hourly earnings increased by 7 cents, the Labor Department reported. Employment increased in certain industries, including professional and business services, health care, and retail trade.

One area that struggled was mining, which includes jobs related to oil and gas extraction. Last month, employment in mining and logging was down by 11,000. The drop in oil prices likely played a large role in these losses, wrote Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, on the White House blog.

However, Furman also emphasized a positive long-term trend: the economy has created about 12 million private-sector jobs over the past five years.

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