The U.S. job-creation engine sputtered in March as employers hired fewer workers than forecast and a shrinking labor force pushed the unemployment rate down to the lowest in four years.
Payrolls grew by 88,000, the smallest gain in nine months and less than the most-pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey, after a revised 268,000 February increase, Labor Department data showed today in Washington. The jobless rate fell to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent.
Stocks and bond yields tumbled as the report raised concern that federal budget cuts may be sapping growth in the world’s largest economy. The absence of sustained and bigger gains in employment and earnings underscores the Federal Reserve’s view that more progress is needed before record monetary policy stimulus can be scaled back.
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