This morning’s report from the Department of Labor was a relatively grim one, reflecting 121,000 fewer jobs added than predicted by economists, and the lowest job creation numbers since December 2013. Employment rose by 126,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent.
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According to the The New York Times, analysts blamed the slowdown on harsh winter weather and falling oil prices.
“The American energy industry is adjusting very quickly to low oil prices, and so we’ve seen this in the counts of the number of rigs that are active and are seeing in mining and energy-related industries,” Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust, told the Times. “The bad news is we’re losing some jobs. The good news, is we hope, that the average consumer is saving a tremendous amount of money in lower gasoline prices.”
Jobs in mining, which includes oil and gas extraction, fell 11,000 in March and 30,000 for the first quarter. Construction jobs fell by 1,000, and food services and drinking places showed slower gains than last month — 9,000 jobs added, as opposed to 66,000 added in February. Manufacturing, financial activities, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, government, and information, were essentially flat.
On the plus side, several sectors continued to see to growth, including professional and business services (+40,000 jobs), health care (+22,000 jobs), and retail trade (+26,000 jobs).
Average hourly earnings rose 7 cents to $24.86. Over the course of the year, average earnings are up 2.1 percent. The PayScale Index, which tracks the changes in wages of all employed US workers, predicts a 1.7 percent increase in pay for the first quarter of 2015.
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