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Economy adds 303,000 jobs in March: Unemployment at 3.8%

The U.S. economy added 303,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 3.8 percent, according to new Labor Department data released Friday.

The March jobs report once again beat expectations. Economists had anticipated that the economy would gain 200,000 jobs and that the jobless rate would dip to 3.8 percent.

The latest data comes after several months of strong jobs numbers and the longest stretch of sub-4 percent unemployment since the late 1960s.

“This report underscores the strength of the job market within the broader context of a U.S. economy that has continued to be largely resistant to the effects of higher rates,” said Joseph Gaffoglio, president of Mutual of America Capital Management.

The labor market has remained surprisingly resilient in the face of the Federal Reserve’s decision to hold interest rates at a two-decade high in recent months. The central bank raised rates to their current range of 5.25 percent to 5.5 percent over the past year-and-a-half in an effort to tamp down on inflation.

Inflation has eased significantly since reaching a 40-year high of 9.1 percent in June 2022. As of February, consumer prices were up just 3.2 percent year-over-year. However, Fed officials have maintained in recent months that they need to see more good inflation data before beginning to cut rates.

“The ongoing strength of the labor market, coupled with inflation persisting above the Fed’s 2% target, is likely to uphold [Fed Chair Jerome] Powell’s cautious approach to monetary easing,” Gaffoglio said.

Despite positive signs from the economy, President Biden faces an uphill battle on economic issues as he heads into November’s election. Former President Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, continues to poll better with voters on the economy.

In a recent Wall Street Journal poll of voters from seven swing states, 54 percent said Trump would best handle the economy, compared to 34 percent who said the same about Biden.

Another 56 percent of voters in the poll said the economy had gotten worse in the past two years, and 74 percent also said inflation was moving in the wrong direction.

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