The U.S. economy created a disappointing 88,000 payroll jobs in March, according to Friday’s report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was down sharply from the 268,000 gain in February. The unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent, a new low for the recovery, but even that was largely due to a drop in labor force participation.
The bulk of the 88,000 new jobs were created in the private service sector. Professional and business services provided 51,000 jobs, followed by 44,000 in educational and health services. Goods producing industries contributed just 16,000 jobs, mostly in construction. Manufacturing employment fell slightly.
Government employment continued its long downward trajectory, led by a loss of 14,000 federal jobs. State government employment gained slightly and local government jobs barely changed.
The 88,000 increase in payroll jobs was especially disappointing after the strong growth reported in January and February. The latest report revised job gains upward for both of those months, but the total of 504,000 payroll jobs created in the first quarter of 2013 was still well below the 626,000 for the fourth quarter of 2012…