March came in like a job-creating lion and left like, well, some sort of severely disappointing animal. In numbers released Friday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the economy created just 126,000 jobs. That's barely half of the 248,000 predicted by economists. It's the first time in a year there haven't been at least 200,000 new jobs for a month.
And adding insult to injury, it looks like the great numbers in January and February weren't as good as they seemed, either—the totals from those two months were revised down by a total of 69,000 jobs too. The unemployment rate stayed steady at 5.5 percent, but labor-force participation continues to tank.
There's a technical economic term to describe this: "oof."
As this chart from the White House shows, things are still way better than they were immediately after the recession, but the straightforwardly upward growth many economists had hoped for after the last few reports isn't quite there:
Private Sector Jobs, Seasonally Adjusted
So what happened? One possible culprit is oil prices. Consumers might love seeing their gas expenses shrink, but there's a tradeoff, and that's in weakness in the job market. Mining, which includes the oil industry in the BLS's count, lost 11,000 jobs in March, and is down 30,000 for the year. Supporting services for extraction have also been hit hard.