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Friday, April 6, 2012

March jobs numbers: Growth falls short

The economy added a lower-than-expected 120,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate fell slightly to 8.2 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday.

That broke three straight months of job gains exceeding 200,000 — suggesting that the recovery continues to be unsteady, with factors including high gasoline prices.

The March number was a wide miss of Wall Street projections that payrolls would increase by 203,000 and ends what had been something of a winning streak for President Barack Obama.

But the White House portrayed the news as a natural fluctuation in an overall upward thrust for the economy.

“We welcome today’s news that our businesses created 121,000 jobs and the unemployment rate ticked down,” Obama said Friday morning at the opening of a White House forum on women and the economy. “It’s clear to every American that there will still be ups and downs along the way, and we’ve got more work to do.”

Retailers shed 34,000 jobs, construction lost 7,000 jobs, and temporary work fell by 7,500 jobs in a reversal of recent trends. But manufacturing continued its upswing, boosting its payrolls by 37,000. The unemployment rate fell a tenth of a percentage point despite the meager job gains because 333,000 Americans left or didn’t join the labor force last month, so the decline is nothing to celebrate. (Continues)

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