The U.S. labor market grew in April at its weakest pace in seven months, new government data showed Friday, as more firms held off on hiring amid anxiety about broader economic weaknesses.
Employers added 160,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.0 percent.
The latest jobs data provided an unexpectedly downcast signal about the nation’s labor market: A surge of Americans dropped out of the workforce and hiring in several key industries, including construction and manufacturing, all but stalled. The Department of Labor also revised downward jobs gains in the prior two months by a combined 19,000.
The deceleration in jobs growth provides the first potential signal that the nation’s recent economic sluggishness — the result of a still-strong dollar, thinned corporate profits and cautious business and consumer spending — could be spilling into the labor market.
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