Nonfarm payrolls increased by 215,000 in March, providing a positive sign for an economy that otherwise has been slowing lately.
The jobs growth came as the headline unemployment rate rose to 5.0 percent, the first month-over-month increase since May 2015. The level of unemployed Americans considered part of the workforce rose to 7.97 million, from 7.82 million in February. A separate measure of unemployment that includes those not looking for work as well as those working part-time for economic reasons also rose one-tenth to 9.8 percent.
Economists surveyed by Reuters were expecting nonfarm payrolls to show growth of 205,000 for March, down from the initially reported 242,000, and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 4.9 percent.
"It's a very solid report. I'm just not sure it's going to mean all that much to the market today," said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. Arone added the doubts the report will have much consequence with Fed policymakers who have made clear in recent days that a rate hike anytime over the next few months is unlikely.
"The report itself was very good," he said.
Stock market futures, however, did not act positively, adding to modest losses ahead of the opening bell.