US economy creates 103,000 jobs in March, wage growth firming

Published: April 07, 2018 12:51:11 | Updated: April 09, 2018 14:56:10

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The US economy created 103,000 jobs in March while the wage growth picked up a bit. Average hourly earnings rose eight cents or 0.3 per cent last month after edging up 0.1 per cent in February.

Nonfarm payroll jobs increased in the previous month, but construction and retail sectors shedding jobs, the labour department has said.

That was the smallest gain since last September and followed a 326,000 surge in February, which was the largest in more than two years, reports Reuters.

Employment gains averaged 202,000 jobs per month in the first quarter (Q1), highlighting underlying labour market strength.

The economy needs to create roughly 100,000 jobs per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population.

The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 per cent for a sixth straight month. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the economy adding 193,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate dropping to 4.0 per cent.

The gain lifted the annual increase in average hourly earnings to 2.7 per cent from 2.6 per cent in February.

Annual wage growth is inching closer to the pace of at least 3.0 per cent economists say is needed to lift inflation towards the Fed’s 2.0 per cent target.

The US central bank increased borrowing costs last month and forecast two more interest rate hikes this year.

The unemployment rate has hovered at 4.1 per cent since October as people piled into the labour market.

The return of cold weather and a shortage of skilled workers weighed on hiring at construction sites in March. Payrolls in the sector fell 15,000, the first drop since last July, after surging 65,000 in February.

Manufacturing employment increased 22,000. The retail sector shed 4,400 jobs after adding 47,300 positions in February.

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