U.S. Economy Adds 88,000 Jobs, Rate Drops to 7.6% - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

U.S. Economy Adds 88,000 Jobs, Rate Drops to 7.6%

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U.S. employers added just 88,000 jobs in March, the fewest since the middle of last year and a sharp retreat after a period of strong hiring. The slowdown is a reminder that the job market's path back to health will be uneven.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate dipped to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent. While that is the lowest in four years, the rate fell only because more people stopped looking for work.

The weakness may signal that companies were worried last month about steep government spending cuts that began on March 1. 

March's job gains were half the pace of the previous six months, when the economy added an average of 196,000 jobs a month. The drop raises fears that the economy could slow after a stronger winter.

 The White House says Friday's unemployment report provides more proof that the economic recovery is continuing.

At the same time, Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, is warning that $85 billion in spending cuts that went into effect on March 1 will be, in his words, a "headwind in the months to come."

Krueger noted that Friday's report was the first since those budget reductions took effect.

The White House has insisted that the spending cuts will damage the economy. (AP)

U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) issued the following statement regarding the national unemployment figures released earlier today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

"Today's jobs report proves yet again that economic growth is far too slow. The percentage of Americans participating in the labor force fell to the lowest in nearly thirty-four years. Nearly one-quarter of all Nevadans are either underemployed or have given up looking for work altogether. The status quo is simply unacceptable, which means Washington must be willing to take a critical look at current policies and make the hard decisions that will get our economy back on track. I remain committed to turning things around and look forward to working with members of both parties as we move forward to secure opportunities and a brighter future for generations to come," said Senator Dean Heller.

Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement on the March employment report. According to the Labor Department, 88,000 jobs were added in March:

"Today's employment report again shows that our economy cannot afford more self-inflicted setbacks like the sequester. We need to focus on growth, not austerity. To spur greater job growth, Republicans should work with Democrats to make job-creating investments and replace the sequester with a balanced approach to deficit reduction that combines smart cuts with revenue measures such as closing tax loopholes for the very wealthy.

"We all know this recovery has a long road ahead, and nobody knows it better than the workers who have lost their jobs in Nevada and across the nation. But only Congress can undo the serious effects of Republicans' harsh austerity. I hope my Republican colleagues will put partisanship aside and work with us for the good of the middle class."

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