Job Growth Slows Sharply, But Unemployment Rate Dips

There were just 88,000 jobs added to private and public payrolls in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. But the nation’s jobless rate edged down to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent. That dip wasn’t for a good reason, though: Nearly half a million fewer people were participating in the labor force.

The news was not in line with expectations. As we reported earlier, economists were expecting to hear that payrolls had grown by 200,000 jobs and that the jobless rate had remained at February’s 7.7 percent.

We’ll have more from the report and reactions to it as morning continues. Be sure to hit your refresh button to see our latest updates.

Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. Decline In The Labor Force:

According to BLS, there were 496,000 fewer people counted as being part of the labor force last month. And, the “participation rate” declined to 63.3 percent from 63.5 percent.

So, despite the weak job growth picked up in the agency’s survey of employers, the jobless rate was nudged down to its lowest point since December 2008′s 7.3 percent.

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