The sharp retreat in hiring last month to the slowest pace in more than a year reflects lost economic momentum in the U.S. — and may make the Federal Reserve more reluctant to start raising interest rates as early as June.
The Labor Department report Friday showing just 126,000 new jobs were added in March surprised analysts, who were expecting almost twice that number.
But neither did it raise alarm bells. Economists figured that cold weather and heavy snows exaggerated the decline and that hiring was bound to ease after unsustainable, heady job growth in some recent months.
The unemployment rate held steady at 5.5% and, in a sign that the job market is getting tighter,...