US unemployment rate near ten year low, but job creation falters

WASHINGTON: The US unemployment rate fell in March to 4.5 per cent, its lowest level in nearly 10 years, but job creation tumbled unexpectedly, underscoring the challenges President Donald Trump faces to fulfil his 25-million-job pledge.
After months of pumping out new jobs at a steady clip, the world’s largest economy added only 98,000 net new positions last month, the Labour Department reported on Friday — a figure far below analyst expectations.
Central bank policymakers have been split over the amount of slack in labour markets and the dangers of inflation.
The March data could support the views of some Federal Reserve members who say the United States is at or near full employment.
Adult women, whites and Hispanics saw employment gains while other major worker groups saw little change.
Growth in hourly wages slowed for the month but continued to rise, adding five cents, or 0.2 per cent.
The monthly job creation figure was nevertheless the weakest since May 2016 and blunted the surging numbers seen in January and February, when unseasonably warm weather helped push job creation well above the 200,000 mark.
Rob Martin of Barclays in New York called the March result “a weak report with no silver linings in the details.”
Analysts had expected a far smaller dip in March job creation to 180,000 net new positions, on the back of the public sector hiring freeze put in place by the Trump government and a powerful storm that hit the US northeast last month.
Having campaigned on an “America First” agenda of economic nationalism and revival of manufacturing, Trump has pledged to create 25 million new jobs over 10 years and return the US to annual growth of as much as four per cent — goals economists say are unrealistic.
With March’s result, the monthly average of jobs created for the first quarter fell to 178,000.— AFP