The unemployment rate dropped from 7.7 to 7.6 percent in March, according to data released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics — but that was the good news. The economy only added 88,000 jobs.
This was substantially lower than expectations, as noted by economist Justin Wolfers.
A reminder on consensus forecasts: Payrolls +192k; private +210k. Unemployment at 7.7%; earnings +0.2%.— Justin Wolfers (@justinwolfers) April 5, 2013
Numbers for February and January were revised up 32,000 jobs and 29,000 respectively, yielding a total change of 61,000 jobs.
The unemployment rate dropped 0.1 percent, although that differed among various demographic groups.
The sector of the economy that saw the biggest change was professional services for the second month in a row.
One particularly interesting data point is the labor force participation rate, basically the percentage of the working-age population who are working or looking for work. As Reuters' Cate Long notes, it's at its lowest point in 30 years.
This is key stat... not unemployment rate ---> "@kelly_evans: US labor force participation hits a new 34-year low (63.3%).— Cate Long (@cate_long) April 5, 2013
The average workweek increased 0.1 hour to 34.6 hours. Average hourly earnings increased one cents to $23.83, having increased 42 cents over the year.