The U.S. Labor Department released the job report for the month of March and the figures are far from encouraging. The economy added only 88,000 new jobs over the month, while the unemployment rate dropped from 7.7 percent in February to 7.6 percent.
"This was an ugly report as the expected number was about 190,000," said TD Ameritrade strategist, Joe Kinahan. "The major area of concern is the loss of jobs in the retail sector. When taken with the recent disappointment in ISM and housing numbers this may cause a reassessment of what we feel currently about the economy."
A dip in the unemployment rate points to more bad news since many Americans have simply given up their search for work.
The Washington Post reports:
Nearly four years into the economic recovery, with the unemployment rate still close to 8 percent, the nation recorded a month in which too few jobs were added to keep up with the growing American workforce (that number is more like 125,000).
The headline read that the unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent, but it was almost entirely for bad reasons.
A whopping 496,000 people dropped out of the labor force, and 206,000 fewer people reported having a job, meaning that the proportion of Americans currently working actually ticked down, not up.
The Obama administration responded to the numbers by pointing the finger at the GOP, and vice versa."While the recovery was gaining traction before sequestration took effect, these arbitrary and unnecessary cuts to government services will be a headwind in the months to come," Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Kruhger said in a statement. "The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the sequester will reduce employment by 750,000 full-time equivalent jobs by the end of the year. Now is not the time for Washington to impose more self-inflicted wounds on the economy."
GOP members believe that the job numbers should be a wake-up call for the commander in chief. "The president's policies continue to make it harder for Americans to find work," noted House Speaker John Boehner. "Hundreds of thousands fled the workforce last month and unemployment remains far above what the Obama administration promised when it enacted its 'stimulus' spending plan."
President Obama previously called on Congressional Republicans to offer a revised debt reduction plan after rejecting his proposal to raise taxes.