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 / Updated  / Source: NBC News

For the past 12 months, the economy has been generating more than 200,000 jobs on average per month. Not last month, though.

Employers added jobs at the most sluggish pace since December 2013 in March, with the economy creating a much-lower-than expected 126,000 jobs, government data showed Friday. The unemployment rate stayed steady at 5.5 percent.

Economists blamed the slower pace of hiring on the harsh winter in the Northeast and on other signs from construction, factories and consumer spending that the economy has slowed.

Average hourly earnings rose a modest 7 cents an hour to $24.86, while the average work week slipped slightly to 34.5 hours.


-- Patrick J. Rizzo