The latest national job report - issued early today - was underwhelming.
U.S. employers added a modest 120,000 positions in March, inching the nation's jobless rate down to 8.2 percent, but coming up far short of expected growth of approximately 210,000 jobs. The minimal increase in jobs came in the shadow of more than 220,000 new positions in each of the prior three months.
The good news was that manufacturing continues to steam ahead, adding 37,000 jobs. And government payrolls, which shed more than 100,000 jobs last year, remained essentially flat in March.
Private sector employment gains reached 209,000 in March, showing that small businesses (49 or fewer employees) accounted for about half of the gains. Service sector companies added 164,000 jobs.