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Labor Market's Hot Streak Cools

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Labor Market's Hot Streak Cools

American employers added 126K jobs last month, a dramatic fall from numbers sustained over the previous year. The news surprised and disheartened economists who'd cheered as the economy generated an average 269K jobs in each of the last 12 months. They cited harsh winter weather in the Northeast and plunging oil prices as chief culprits, contributing to a recurring theme explaining recent lackluster indicators. The unemployment rate didn't budge from 5.5% and, in a modest bit of good news, private sector wages ticked up 0.3%, a threefold increased from February. Today's Labor Department report should boost the odds of the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates at their historic lows through the summer despite earlier widespread speculation they'd go up in June. [NYT]