Employers added just 88,000 jobs last month. The people who are supposed to know about these things expected 200,000.
The economic wise men thought the unemployment rate would hold steady at 7.7%. Wrong again. It actually fell a tenth of a point to 7.6%. But the reason the rate declined was not a favorable one: thousands of Americans stopped looking for jobs.
The numbers on job creation were the weakest since last June, and come on the heels of data showing that manufacturing and service-sector activity slowed in March.
Now, the payroll gains for January and February were revised upward. That’s good news. But economic activity clearly seemed to slow in March.
Exactly why is fuzzy.
It could be that the payroll-tax hike that took effect in January started to pinch. Or maybe those mandatory federal spending cuts that took effect last month started to ripple through the economy.
Whatever the reason, today’s numbers were a warning light, and stock and bond investors noticed.
Tonight on NBR, we will spend most of the program dissecting the jobs report and discussing what the numbers mean and what you should do, if anything, to reposition your portfolio. We’ll tie it all together and make sense of it in a way that, I hope, helps you.