The U.S. economy added 126,000 jobs in March — the lowest monthly jobs figure since December 2013, as ThinkProgess notes. Economists were expecting 245,000 new jobs, according to Business Insider, making the figure a major miss. The unemployment rate remained the same as in February, 5.5%.
Given the trends of the past year, the disappointing number represents a significant turn downward. For the past year, the economy added over 200,000 jobs each month. The new report breaks that streak quite dramatically.
The Labor Department also revised jobs numbers from the previous month. February, widely hailed as a strong month for job growth, added 38,000 fewer jobs than originally reported.
The White House attributed the weak report to "a range of factors including the weather and the global economic slowdown [which] have affected economic data for the first quarter," while noting that the jobs number fell below recent averages:
The report tempers some of the enthusiasm that economists harbored about a sustained upswing in hiring, and has recalled the concern that the overall economic recovery isn't translating into tangible results for ordinary workers.
One modest bit of good news is that wages saw a slight bump. Wages rose 0.3% for private-sector workers in March, compared to 0.1% in February, according to the New York Times.
The black unemployment rate was 10.1%, more than double the 4.7% white unemployment rate. While that stark disparity is a decades-long trend, the severity of the black unemployment rate speaks to the unevenness of the economic recovery.
The jobs numbers are a disappointment, but a few months' worth of data shouldn't serve as grounds for panic. The overall takeaway is that the pace of job growth isn't accelerating as anticipated, and that there's plenty of work to be done to make the labor market healthier.