The Labor Department reported this morning that non-farm payrolls eased amid hopes the economy had begun to grow at a faster clip. The report showed just 88,000 non-farm payrolls were added, though the unemployment rate fell from 7.7% to 7.6%. Investors had hoped the report would show 200,000 jobs were added in March. The Labor Department upwardly revised its February estimate to 268,000 non-farm jobs added.
The Labor Department reports employment grew in professional and business services and in health care, but declined in retail trade. The number of long-term unemployed was little changed at 4.6 million and accounts for 39.6% of the unemployed. The civilian labor force declined by 496,000 over the month, and the labor force participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 63.3% -- a 35-year low. The employment-population ratio, at 58.5%, changed little. The report also notes the U.S. Postal Service cuts its workforce by 12,000.
The U.S. dollar index softened on the news and stock-market analysts expect the Dow Jones Industrial Average to react negatively to the report, as it further raises speculation the Federal Reserve will soon start winding down its asset purchasing program.