The new employment report revealed today that only 120,000 new jobs were created last month, which was far fewer than forecasters expected, and way below the 200,000-plus new jobs created in January and February. The Labor Department said the U.S. unemployment rate fell slightly, to 8.2 percent. That's because fewer people were looking for jobs. The official count includes only those seeking work.
"This is one of those cases where the numbers do bounce around quite a bit," said economist Joel Naroff at Naroff Economic Advisors. The survey is "a reminder that while the economy is recovering, there are still some hurdles that it's facing, and we're not seeing strong growth month after month after month."
Some of the biggest job losses in March came in retail and construction, which puzzled some analysts, as both industries had been showed signs of recent growth. The decline might be seasonal.
The economy has added 858,000 jobs since December - the best four months of hiring in two years.
"Unless we continue to see these soft numbers, I think we should just simply chalk this up to the vagaries of the data, rather than any weakening trend in the economy," said Naroff.
Treasury yields and stock futures dropped sharply after the report came out. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.09 percent from 2.20 percent, while Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 0.8 percent to 1,381.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio.