The U.S. only added 126,000 jobs in March, the lowest since December 2013 and well below the CNNMoney economist survey forecast of 244,000.
The unemployment rate remained the same at 5.5%.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that wage growth stayed sluggish. Average hourly earnings went up only 2.1% over last year. The goal is to see 3.5% — or better — wage growth. To put that another way, Americans made $24.34 an hour a year ago. That only bumped up to $24.86 an hour now.
Lackluster wage growth is a major reason why many Americans still aren’t feeling the economic recovery — and why they aren’t spending much lately.
“All the measures were weak and beyond what anybody thought,” says Allen Sinai, chief economist at Decision Economics. “It’s a bad first quarter.”