WASHINGTON – U.S. employers added just 98,000 jobs last month, the fewest in a year, though the unemployment rate fell to an almost seven-year low of 4.5 percent.
The Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell because nearly a half-million more Americans found jobs. The number of people working and the new job count are done by separate surveys.
Economists had expected a fall-off in hiring after job gains in January and February had averaged a robust 237,000. Those increases had been fueled partly by strong hiring in construction, which occurred because of unseasonably warm weather.
Construction firms added 6,000 jobs in March, the fewest in seven months. Retailers, suffering from the ongoing shift to online shopping, slashed 30,000 jobs. Education and health care services added the fewest jobs in 15 months.