U.S. job growth slowed sharply in March amid continued layoffs in the retail sector, but a drop in the unemployment rate to a near 10-year low of 4.5 percent suggested the labor market was still tightening.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 98,000 jobs last month, the fewest since last May, the Labor Department said on Friday.
Job gains, which had exceeded 200,000 in January and February, were also held back by a slowdown in hiring at construction sites, factories and leisure and hospitality businesses, which had been boosted by unusually warm temperatures earlier in the year.
In March, temperatures dropped and a storm lashed the Northeast, likely accounting for some of the stepback in hiring. The two-tenths of a percentage point drop in the unemployment rate from 4.7 percent in February took it to its lowest level since May 2007.
“There probably was a large weather-related factor in there during the measurement week.