U.S. Adds 196,000 Jobs in March; Unemployment Steady at 3.8%


U.S. job creation came back to life in March, with a hiring surge in healthcare, bars and restaurants, while unemployment held steady and workers' wages continued to climb, government data showed Friday.

The world's largest economy added 196,000 net new positions for the month, well above expectations, while the jobless rate remained at 3.8 percent, according to the Labor Department.

The return to healthy job creation at the close of the third quarter should draw a sigh of relief from the White House after February's anemic result when employers added just 33,000 net new positions, the slowest in 17 months.

The broad consensus among economists is that the US economy is slowing as the boost from recent tax cuts and fiscal stimulus fades. But President Donald Trump's administration has forecast that 2019 will be another year of banner growth.

Average hourly wages rose four cents for the month, putting them up 3.2 percent over March of last year, more than twice the pace of consumer inflation over the same period -- giving workers more purchasing power and suggesting they will continue to spend.

A dark spot, however, was hiring among manufacturers, a sector hard-hit by Trump's trade war with China. Automakers shed 6,300 jobs. Retailers also gave up nearly 12,000 workers. 

The labor force also shrank as more than 220,000 people stopped looking for work, driving the participation rate down two tenths of a point to 63 percent.

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