US jobless figures fall to a three-decade low

THE US unemployment rate dropped to a three-decade low last month, official figures revealed yesterday, although signs of a slowdown elsewhere in the world's largest economy soothed fears of an imminent interest rate rise.

According to figures released by the US Labor Department, the unemployment rate hit 4.2 per cent in March, the lowest since February 1970 and a larger fall than had been expected by the market. The US unemployment rate is now significantly below that of Japan, once seen as the model for the rest of the world.

The rate of unemployment among Hispanics fell to 5.8 per cent, the lowest on record, the figures revealed.

The detail of the monthly jobs report, one of the most market-sensitive pieces of economic data released in the US, revealed that the fall in the unemployment rate was largely due to a fall in the civilian labour force. The US economy added just 46,000 new jobs last month, well below analysts' expectations, and the slowest pace of monthly jobs growth for more than three years.

The weaker-than-forecast jobs growth, combined with a benign set of average earnings numbers, calmed fears that the US Federal Reserve would soon see fit to hike interest rates. A series of extremely strong official figures had recently heightened concerns about a US rate rise. Rate jitters were also sparked on Thursday evening, following the release of February's Fed meeting minutes. These showed that some Fed members had begun to argue for the reversal of the autumn's aggressive string of US interest rate cuts.

US bonds posted their biggest increase for four weeks amid the renewed rate optimism, with the yield on two-year notes falling 7 basis points to 4.94 per cent. US equity markets were closed for the Easter holiday. "There's good news in this report", said Ned Riley, chief investment officer at BankBoston Corp. "It suggests there are little inflationary pressures out there". Greg Jones, chief economist at Briefing.com, said: "Even with tight labour markets. we're seeing no acceleration of inflation."

Despite the weaker-than-expected jobs growth, economists said demand for labour remained strong.

At least part of the weak jobs growth was driven by a statistical anomaly, they said, caused by the fact that this year's hiring trends had not matched the usual seasonal pattern.

"This was the warmest winter since 1895, which made seasonal adjustment a nightmare," said economist David Orr of First Union Corp. in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Manufacturers, many hit hard by the global economic slowdown that began in Asia near two years ago, cut 35,000 jobs last month, bringing the decline for the past year to 381,000.

Construction hiring fell by a seasonally adjusted 47,000 jobs in March after the actual gain in jobs fell short of the normal advance for the start of spring.

Mining, which includes oil-drilling, lost 7,000 jobs in March, bringing losses over the past year to 55,000. Agricultural services and real estate also recorded declines.

Hiring at restaurants and bars fell short of the usual seasonal gains.

However, robust employment growth continued in engineering and management services, health care, educational services and amusement and recreation. There also were gains in computer and data processing and finance and insurance.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most