RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And now for some disappointing economic news. The government says U.S. employers added far fewer jobs to their payrolls last month than expected. As NPR's John Ydstie reports, job creation was just half of what analysts had predicted. Among the reasons was bad weather.
JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: The U.S. economy created just 126,000 jobs in March. That follows 12 straight months of increases over 200,000, the best showing in 20 years. Economist John Canally of LPL Financial in Boston says bad weather during the past couple of months contributed to the weak job growth. That caused weak hiring in construction and retail, hotels and restaurants.
JOHN CANALLY: But you also have to say that the West Coast port strike had an impact because manufacturing is weak. But also the stronger dollar had an impact because we saw weakness in export-oriented jobs.
YDSTIE: The big decline in oil prices also contributed to the weak showing. Oil-drillers have been shutting down rigs as the oil glut has cut prices in half over the past nine months. Last month, employment in the mining sector, which includes oil drilling, fell by 11,000. Layoffs reported by oil companies are even higher. Canally says he doesn't believe this clunker of a report reflects the new trend in job creation. He thinks the pace remains around 200,000 a month. But he says the weak number in today's report will give the Federal Reserve something to think about as it considers when to begin raising interest rates.
CANALLY: You know, if the Federal Reserve was thinking about raising rates as soon as June, they're probably not going to because this report suggests that the labor market is not making as much progress as they would have thought.
YDSTIE: Canally says there were a couple of bright spots in this report. The unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent, and the pace of wage increases accelerated a bit. John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington.
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