The U.S. jobs market continued to show signs of strength as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the addition of 236,000 jobs in March versus economist forecasts for 239,000.
Alongside, the BLS reported the unemployment rate dipping to 3.5% from 3.6% in February and against expectations for 3.6%.
February’s gain of 311,000 jobs was revised higher to 326,000.
This morning’s payrolls report is the final one the U.S. Federal Reserve will see prior to its May 2-3 meeting, at which the central bank will decide whether to continue tightening monetary policy or pausing its now more than one-year long series of rate hikes. Ahead of the report, short-term rate futures markets were pricing in about a two-in-three chance the Fed would pause in May.
Data from earlier this week began to hint at some weakness in the labor market, with the ADP on Wednesday reporting just 145,000 private sector jobs added in March versus 210,000 expected. Then on Thursday, the Department of Labor reported weekly initial jobless claims of 228,000 against forecasts for just 200,000. In addition, the previous week’s 192,000 initial claims were revised up to 246,000.
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