Employers Added 98000 Jobs in March Below Expectations of 180000

New claims for unemployment insurance rose 15,000 in the week ending March 18 to 258,000

The unemployment rate fell from 4.7 percent to 4.5 percent in March, the lowest level since May 2007. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased 1,700 in February, with gains of 1,400 in the goods-producing sector and 300 in the service-providing sector. That figure is down from the 187,000 monthly average a year ago.

Charlottesville and Madison, Greene and Fluvanna counties all had the lowest unemployment rate in the area in February at 3.1 percent.

However, the unemployment rate fell from 4.7% to 4.5%, the lowest level in nearly a decade, defying forecast for an unchanged reading.

Average hourly earnings increased 5 cents or 0.2 percent in March after rising 0.3 percent in February.

Medium-sized businesses (50 to 499 employees) gained 100,000 jobs during the month, and large businesses (500 or more employees) added 45,000, ADP said.

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"After the unseasonably warm January and February, which pushed monthly job gains back above 200,000, there was always going to be some pay back in March, when the weather snapped back to seasonal norms, including some heavy snowstorms", wrote Paul Ashworth, chief US economist for Capital Economics.

Construction jobs, which grew by a strong 58,000 positions in February thanks to the unseasonably warm weather across much of the country, were not a strong point in March, Labor said.

Overall job growth in March was well below the 219,000 figure from the previous month. The number of long-term unemployed - people who have been without a job for 27 weeks or longer - was little changed during the month at 1.7 million and accounted for 23.3 percent of the unemployed. Despite the decline, Meigs County held steady in second place in terms of having the highest unemployment rate in the state's 88 counties.

Aberdeen Asset Management investment strategist Luke Bartholomew said the decline in job creation was another sign of a "pretty tight" labour market.

Weather-related disruptions to the economy could have slowed hiring in March, and employers could be finding it more hard to fill job openings as labor market slack diminishes. The private service-providing sector, at 3,828,700, increased 9,200. Education and health care services added the fewest jobs in 15 months.

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