Don’t Panic About Hiring Numbers Yet

Hiring has slowed dramatically, but experts say it’s not time to panic.

Expectations that the economy had added 190,000 jobs were dashed yesterday as the newest report from the labor department showed that only 88,000 jobs were added.

Even worse, the jobless rate dipped to 7.6%, but that’s because 500,000 people dropped out of the labor market.

Despite the grim news, economists predict that hiring will chug along steadily for the remainder of the year.

“Payrolls can be very volatile from month to month,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, told CNN. “I’m not inclined to panic over one 88,000 number.”

O’Sullivan thinks monthly jobs figures will average around 175,000 for the rest of the year.

Past job numbers have already been bolstered with more additions. Hiring in January and February was revised upward by 61,000 jobs.

Economists surveyed by CNNMoney earlier this week were forecasting that employers will add 2.24 million jobs in 2013, and that the unemployment rate will edge down slightly to 7.4% by the end of this year and improve to 6.7% by the end of 2014.

Scot Melland, chief executive of Dice Holdings, a global online recruiter, told CNN that companies are still cautious about hiring, and that could be why numbers were weaker in March.

“They are still being very cautious about adding workers,” he said in an interview. “They are still uncomfortable about the future.”

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