Nightly News   |  April 05, 2013

Jobs growth slowed in March

Stocks fell after Friday’s jobs report that the U.S. created about 88,000 non-farm jobs in March, well below February’s 254,000 increase. Although the unemployment rate edged down, it was in part because people either stopped looking for work or took part-time jobs. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> are in the news for the month of march and the news was not good. employers added just 88,000 jobs to the payrolls last month. the fewest in any month in nearly a year. the unemployment rate edged down for all the wrong reasons. tom costello has more on what's going on.

>> reporter: from retail to construction it's been six months of an improving jobs picture and economic recovery. but today's numbers were a shocker.

>> this is a punch to the gut. this is not a good number.

>> reporter: after adding an average of 196,000 jobs in each of the last six months, only 88,000 were added in march. economists hoped for nearly 200,000. the unemployment rate still fell but experts say that's because many people took part-time jobs or gave up looking for work. the white house suggested the looming government sequestration cuts played a role in the bad numbers.

>> if you look at the regional coverage of the impacts of sequester it focuses on real people .

>> reporter: an estimated 12 million americans are still out of work. among them, single mom lois taheda who was polishing her resum? today in rhode island .

>> me without a job for a year basically has been the roughest thing ever. just no money at all.

>> reporter: to land a job in the growing health care field she's been getting vocational training at the stepping up program in providence.

>> where we used to have 20, 30 students interested in the class we now have a wait list of 60 people interested.

>> reporter: interested because most are out of work. today's numbers suggest the economy hit a wall in march. 2,000 people lost their jobs in the financial services sector. 3,000 in manufacturing. and a whopping 24,000 retail jobs were lost. economists say cold weather and higher taxes may have kept shoppers from shopping.

>> this may be the leading edge of the payroll tax hike hurting consumer spending and leading to lay-offs in retail jobs.

>> reporter: there is a bigger question. has corporate america decided it can get by with fewer employees? tom costello, nbc news, washington.