The US economy continued to add jobs in March, with a total of 236,000, and unemployment fell to 3.5%, in a new sign of strength that could prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates again next month. .
Friday’s government report suggests the economy and labor market remain strong despite nine Fed rate hikes in the past year.
However, other indicators point to an economic slowdown: manufacturing is down, the trade balance with the rest of the world is declining, and while restaurants, shops and other service companies have continued to grow, they are slowing down.
The unemployment rate of 3.5% is not far from the 53-year low of 3.4% recorded in January, but the number of jobs created in March was well below the 326,000 in February.
The job market is expected to ease considerably in this second quarter as companies respond to lower demand caused by rising borrowing costs.
Interest rate increases have succeeded in bringing inflation down to 6%, from 9.1% reached last June, but it is still far from the Fed’s 2% target.
Also on the horizon is the failure of two large banks in March, and credit and lending conditions could unsettle other financial institutions and disrupt consumer and business lending and spending.
Now it remains to be seen the Fed’s evaluation of the March figures to decide a new interest rate increase in May.
[Con información de AP y Reuters]