The United States added a modest 192,000 jobs in March as theeconomy emerged from a brutal winter, while the unemployment rate held steady,Labor Department data showed.Job growth in the world's largest economy was a shade below analysts' averageestimate of 195,000 net new jobs, and widely missed other estimates in the 200,000range.Still, the overall picture was more upbeat about a first quarter plagued by unusually
bad winter weather in much of the country.The department revised job growth for the prior two months up a net 37,000.February's number was hiked by 22,000 to 197,000.The March unemployment rate was unchanged from February's 6.7 percent,disappointing expectations of a dip. The number of unemployed held steady at 10.5million. Both measures have shown little movement since December.Still, the March pace of job creation was better than the average of 183,000 over theprior 12 months."The post-winter rebound we hoped for did not happen, but the winter hit wassmaller than previously believed," said Ian Shepherdson of PantheonMacroeconomics."Payrolls have now returned to their pre-winter trend of just under 200,000 permonth, more than enough to keep the unemployment rate trending down, unless thelabor force begins to expand more rapidly."The markets took the mostly in-line numbers in stride. The Dow Jones IndustrialAverage rose 0.15 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.23 percent inmorning trade.The euro was changed little against the dollar."Overall, the employment data won't change any perceptions that the economy isgrowing at a decent but sluggish pace," Briefing.com said.
"More importantly, the data also won't change any perceptions as to how the Fedmight act."More people were employed and actively seeking jobs in March, suggestingincreased confidence in job prospects. The participation rate rose 0.2 percentagepoints to 63.2 percent.March's job gains were exclusively in the private sector, though the number of newprivate nonfarm payrolls came in well below the 205,000 anticipated. Governmentadded no jobs following a gain of 9,000 in February.The vast services sector led growth with 57,000 new jobs. Gains were registered inhealth, food and beverage services and construction, while manufacturing shed1,000 jobs.The average workweek jumped to 34.5 hours, wiping out declines over the past threemonths.Average hourly earnings edged down by one cent to $24.30, following a nine centincrease in February.The White House welcomed the steady improvement in job growth over the past yearbut said more official efforts were needed to encourage hiring."While today's data indicates that the recovery is continuing to unfold, the Presidentstill believes further steps must be taken to strengthen growth and boost jobcreation," Jason Furman, head of President Barack Obama's Council of EconomicAdvisers, said in a statement.- Fed tightening at bay -Economists said the largely anticipated March jobs report should have little impacton the Federal Reserve's measured reduction of its stimulus program that started inJanuary and is expected to wind up before the year ends, and would keep anyinterest hike in its near-zero key interest rate at bay.The US central bank has cut $10 billion a month from its asset-purchase program,
now at $55 billion. The Federal Open Market Committee is expected to lop offanother $10 billion at its April 29 and 30 meeting.The Fed is particularly concerned about the persistently high level of long-termunemployed amid the slow recovery from the Great Recession.In March, the number of people jobless for 27 weeks or more barely budget at 3.7million, accounting for 35.8 percent of the unemployed."The flat unemployment rate, helped by the rise in the participation rate, along withthe tame earnings data... and the rise in involuntary part-time employment will
reinforce the case of Fed officials arguing that tightening is still a long way away,"said Jim O'Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics.