The US labour market recorded a sharp and unexpected slowdown in March, as the pace of hiring slowed markedly after a strong start to the year, official figures released on Friday (6 April) showed.
According to the US Department of Labor, the world's largest economy created 98,000 jobs in March, falling way short of the 175,000 analysts expected and recording one of the slowest rate of growth in almost a year.
Meanwhile, the number of new jobs created in February to was revised down to 219,000 from 235,000 and January's gain was reduced to 216,000 from 238,000.
However, the unemployment rate fell from 4.7% to 4.5%, the lowest level in almost a decade, defying forecast for an unchanged reading.
Hourly wages rose 0.2% to $26.14 in last month, matching analyst's expectations and the rate of growth recorded in February, the first full month of Donald Trump's presidency.
Meanwhile, hourly pay increased 2.7% over 12 months, down from the 2.8% recorded in February. while the average US workers worked a total of 34.3 hours per week, unchanged from the previous month.
"Lower unemployment and few jobs which are created confirm that the economy is at full employment," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets UK.
"At the same time, wage growth still need to grow more. The data has confirmed that February's blowout number was an anomaly since many were arguing that the rise is chiefly caused by mild weather conditions. Consumer spending is the cornerstone of the US economy, and we know that so far this quarter, this number has been in a massive trouble."
The data put the dollar firmly on the back foot, with the greenback falling 0.42% and 0.50% against the yen and the Canadian dollar respectively.