The official unemployment rate fell one tenth of a percent to 8.2% but the number of people receiving extended unemployment benefits increased while the number of jobs created fell massively short of the number economists expected.
The nation's unemployment rate dipped slightly in March, but the economy's job-creating engine slowed, raising concerns about the strength of the recovery.
The Labor Department reported Friday that the economy generated 120,000 jobs last March, well below the 203,000 expected and breaking a streak of robust job reports since the beginning of the year. The unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent in February.
A fourth successive month of healthy employment gains would have helped President Barack Obama who faces re-election in November.
Even though job growth has been more than 200,000 per month since December and the unemployment rate has fallen from 9.1 percent in August, it remains a little above the level when Obama took office.
The economy has lost about 5.3 million jobs since the start of the 2007-09 recession. At the recent pace of growth, those jobs will not be recouped before early 2014.
The weak employment growth last month likely reflected the fading boost from unseasonably warm winter weather. The payrolls count for January and February was revised to show just 4,000 more jobs created than previously reported.
The drop in the unemployment rate, to the lowest level since January 2009, reflected a drop in the labor force. The separate household survey, from which the jobless rate is derived also showed a drop in employment. (emphasis added)
Meanwhile, Bloomberg is reporting:
Jobless claims fell 6,000 to 357,000 in the week ended March 31, the fewest since April 2008, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast of 43 economists in a Bloomberg News survey estimated a decrease to 355,000. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls also dropped, while those getting extended payments increased.
The number of people who are employed actually went down -- already the lowest level of employment in history -- while the number of unemployed people who can't find work and need to live off of extended benefits went up. Couple this with the pitiful number of jobs created and you have the picture of an economy still in the doldrums
Don't get dizzy from the spin that the White House will put on these numbers.