JUDY WOODRUFF: American employers added 88,000 jobs in March, the smallest gain in nine months, raising new fears that the recovery may be slowing down.
New hiring last month was a sharp decline from the previous two months; 268,000 new jobs were added in February and 148,000 in January. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.6 percent, the lowest in four years, but that was attributed to more people retiring or not searching for work.
Yahoo! Finance's Jeff Macke:
JEFF MACKE, Yahoo! Finance: One-half of one million Americans quit looking for jobs in March. That means they just gave up and they stopped looking. And so that's how you get the unemployment rate to look lower, is because you just shrink the pool.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In fact, the percentage of working adults in the labor force is at the lowest level since 1979. In an interview on Bloomberg TV, Alan Krueger, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said that reflects a number of factors.
ALAN KRUEGER, Chairman, White House Council of Economic Advisers: People will retire as they get older, and we're going to be facing that trend for some time to come. But also when you go through difficult economic times, when unemployment rises, as it did during the recession, you tend to see people leave the labor force. Some go back to school.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Economists often warn not to make too much of any one month's figures. And the stock market, while down today, remains near record highs.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 41 points to close at 14,565. The Nasdaq fell 21 points to close above 3,203. For the week, the Dow shed one-tenth of a percent. The Nasdaq lost nearly two percent.