The U.S. economy lost another 108,000 jobs last month, as the prologue to war exacerbated an already moribund labor market. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.8%.
The Labor Department also revised the number of jobs lost in February to 357,000, up 49,000 from the original number and bringing the two-month total to 465,000.
The number of nonfarm jobs eliminated in March was higher than economists had generally forecast, although the unemployment rate had been expected to rise to 5.9%. Among sectors, manufacturing gave up 36,000 jobs, retail gave up 43,000, the government gave up 40,000 and the transportation sector lost 14,000. Construction added about 21,000 jobs.
The report followed data released Thursday showing the four-week average of first-time jobless benefit seekers rose to 426,500 in the week ending March 12.
Average weekly hours worked rose to 34.3 in March from 34.1 in February. Economists had expected hours would rise to 34.2 hours. Average hourly pay rose 2 cents to $15.10.