The March jobs report shows that nonfarm payroll employment rose 196,000 from 20,000 new jobs in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. March’s rate of unemployment of 3.8% matched February’s rate of 3.8%.

In March, there were 6.2 million unemployed workers roughly the same as February’s total. March’s total of long-term unemployed (those out of the paid labor force for 27 weeks or more) remained close to the same at 1.3 million, or 21.1% of the unemployed, the BLS reported.

"To be really clear — today's jobs report inspires a bit of a sigh of relief relative to the disastrous February jobs number — but the economy is definitely going to grow a lot more slowly in 2019 than 2018," said Josh Bivens, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

March marked the 102nd consecutive month of expansion since the end of the Great Recession. "In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents to $27.70," according to the BLS, "following a 10-cent gain in February. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.2%."

In March, the jobless rates rose for adult men rose to 3.6% from 3.5% in February, while March’s rate of 3.3% unemployment for adult women dipped from 3.4% in February.

In March, the employment-population ratio (the share of the labor force now on payrolls versus the total working-age population) dropped to 60.6% versus February’s 60.7%. The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) in March rose to 4.5 million compared with 4.3 million in February, the BLS reported.

Midsize employers (50-499 employees) dominated with 63,000 new hires in March, down from 95,000 in February, up from 84,000 in January, according to the ADP National Employment Report. Large firms (500 or more workers) hired 60,000 new workers in March, a decline from 77,000 new employees in February. Small businesses (payrolls of 1-49 employees) hired 6,000 new employees in March versus 12,000 workers in February. National franchises declined to 4,000 in March from 24,500 in February.

ADP’s National Employment Report totals the U.S.’ nonfarm private-sector employment from existing payroll data, according to the ADP Research Institute and Moody’s Analytics. ADP reports payroll data for 411,000 American private-sector clients employing about 24 million workers nationwide. (The BLS surveys businesses and households and counts government jobs.)

According to ADP/Moody’s report, the service-providing sector added 135,000 jobs in March versus 139,000 in February. Education and health firms led the way with 56,000 new jobs in March versus 37,000 in February. Professional and business services employment added 41,000 new hires down from 49,000 in February.

Payrolls in the goods-producing sector shrank by 6,000 jobs in March from adding 44,000 hires in February. Manufacturing firms lost 2,000 jobs in March after enterprises adding 17,000 new workers in February. Construction companies’ payrolls declined by 6,000 hires in March after adding 25,000 new workers in February.

"March posted the slowest employment increase in 18 months," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. "Although some service sectors showed continued strength, we saw weakness in the goods producing sector."

Mark Zandi is chief economist of Moody’s Analytics. "The job market is weakening," he said, "with employment gains slowing significantly across most industries and company sizes. Businesses are hiring cautiously as the economy is struggling with fading fiscal stimulus, the trade uncertainty, and the lagged impact of Fed tightening. If employment growth weakens much further, unemployment will begin to rise."