The U.S. economy added the fewest number of jobs in seven months in April and Americans dropped out of the labor force in droves, signs of weakness that cast doubts on whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates before the end of the year.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 160,000 jobs last month as construction employment barely rose and the retail sector shed jobs, the Labor Department said on Friday.
That was the smallest gain since September and below the first-quarter average job growth of 200,000.
Employers added 19,000 fewer jobs in February and March than previously reported. While the unemployment rate held at 5.0 percent that was because people dropped out of the labor force.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls rising 202,000 last month and the jobless rate unchanged at 5 percent.
The stepdown in job growth could raise concerns that the weakness in overall economic activity was spilling over to the labor market. Economic growth slowed sharply in the first quarter this year. Read more