US adds 103,000 jobs in March as unemployment rate remains static

The US added a modest 103,000 jobs last month, below expectations of 178,000, but strong enough to offer reassurance that the US labor market remains healthy.

The labor department said on Friday that the unemployment rate had remained at 4.1% for a sixth straight month.

Despite the lower number of jobs added the unemployment rate is now at 17-year low with average hourly pay up 2.7% compared with a year earlier.

January’s figures were revised sharply lower to 176,000, while February’s were revised higher to a blockbuster 326,000.

Economists said snowstorms in the north-east may have restricted hours worked and kept people away from their jobs, leading to the smaller than expected payroll gain.

The latest figures indicate that despite the slow recovery from the 2008-09 Great Recession, the current expansion is now the second-longest since the 1850s.

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Government data showed that orders for factory goods including industrial machinery, metals and cars surged in February and consumer confidence near the highest point in two decades.

Analyst said the latest jobs report is largely in sync with Fed predictions that the labor market is tight. They see the unemployment rate reaching 3.6% at the end of next year.