The American economy added 196,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.8 percent, the government said Friday.
Economists had expected 170,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to remain unchanged.
February was revised up from the originally reported 20,000 jobs to 33,0000. January was revised up by 1,000 jobs to 312,000.
Job growth in health care was particularly strong, adding 49,000 jobs. Construction added 16,000 jobs. Bars and restaurants added 27,000.
Job creation was a particularly strong suit for the economy last year. In 2018, the economy added 2.6 million new jobs over the course of the year compared with 2.2 million in 2017 and 2.3 million in 2016. For the full year of 2018, the average monthly gain was 223,000. Since President Trump was elected in November 2016, the U.S. economy has created over 5.5 million jobs.
Wages continued to climb, albeit at a slower pace than in February. Average hourly earnings for all nonfarm employees on private nonfarm
payrolls rose by 4 cents to $27.70, following a 10-cent gain in February. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.2 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $23.24 in March.
Last week’s applications for unemployment benefits came in at 202,000, the lowest level in nearly 50 years.