U.S. hiring increased the smallest in six months in March, while wages picked up, signaling a still tightening labor market.
Nonfarm payrolls rose 103,000 in March, the Labor Department said on Friday. The figure fell short of economists’ estimate of a 193,000 increase. This is also followed an upwardly revised 326,000 surge in February.
"If one were to only focus on this single month, the March employment report is on the disappointing side," said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, according to CNBC, "Broader context is appropriate, however. The job market is widely regarded to be close to full employment. So, hiring gains should be slowing at this point in the expansion."
However, wage growth picked up in March. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3 percent after increasing 0.1 percent in February. The average work week was unchanged at 34.5 hours.
"Wage growth continues to inch higher but not enough to worry markets at this point," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial, according to CNBC.
Another closely watched indicator unemployment rate was stable at 4.1 percent for sixth straight month.
The jobs numbers are closely watched by Federal Reserve policymakers. In March, the Fed announced to raised interest rate to a range of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent, marking the sixth time since the financial crisis that it has raised rates. Investors expected two more rate hikes this year.