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US payrolls weaker than expected in March, unemployment rate falls to 4.5%

Nonfarm payrolls expanded by 98,000 jobs in March, while the unemployment rate declined to 4.5%, the U.S. Labor Department said.

Experts had forecast a gain of 175,000 jobs for March, according to Econoday data made available by Bloomberg. The consensus unemployment prediction was 4.7%.

During the past three months, employment has gone up by an average of 178,000 jobs per month.

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The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 63.0%. People recorded as marginally attached to the labor force numbered 1.6 million, which represented those who wanted to work, were available to work and who had looked for a job within the last 12 months. Among the marginally attached were 460,000 discouraged workers, or people who were not looking for work because they believed no jobs were available to them.

The involuntary part-time workforce, or individuals who would prefer full-time employment, was 5.6 million.

The Labor Department adjusted January's job gains down to 216,000 from 238,000, and revised February's employment gains to 219,000 from 235,000.

Average hourly earnings increased by 5 cents to $26.14. On a year-over-year basis, average hourly earnings have gone up by 68 cents, or 2.7%.

The number of long-term unemployed, people who have been without jobs for at least 27 weeks, was 1.7 million, which accounted for 23.3% of the unemployed.

Employment in professional and business services increased by 56,000, around the monthly average for the previous 12 months. Jobs in services to buildings and dwellings went up by 17,000.

Healthcare added 14,000, with hospitals gaining 9,000. Mining employment increased by 11,000.

Retail trade lost 30,000 jobs during the month. General merchandise stores shed 35,000 jobs in March and a total of 89,000 since a recent peak in October 2016.

Employment in manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality and government changed little during the month if at all.

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