U.S. creates 98,000 jobs in March; unemployment 4.5%
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The U.S. created just 98,000 new jobs in March to mark the smallest gain in almost a year, as hiring cooled off after a strong start in 2017. Economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted a 185,000 increase in nonfarm jobs. Yet the unemployment rate fell to 4.5% from 4.7% - the lowest level in almost 10 years - as the number of people who found work outstripped the increase in the labor force, the government said Friday. Average wages rose 0.2% to $26.14 an hour. Hourly pay increased 2.7% from March 2016 to March 2017, down from 2.8% in the prior month. Hours worked totaled 34.3 a week, the same as in February. The government cut its estimate of new jobs created in February to 219,000 from 235,000. January's gain was reduced to 216,000 from 238,000.