Antall nye jobber falt dramatisk fra februar til mars, og var bare halvparten av forventet. Den amerikanske økonomien sakner farten.

American employers added an estimated 88,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, compared with 268,000 in February, according to a Labor Department report released Friday. It was the slowest pace of growth since last June, and less than half of what economists had expected.

It also was the start of a third consecutive spring in which employers tapered off their hiring after a healthy start to the year. Slowdowns in the previous two years could be attributed to flare-ups in theEuropean debt crisis, but this time the cause is less obvious. The recent payroll tax increase or other fiscal tightening in Washington could be partly to blame for the sudden retreat in hiring, but neither seems to be showing up much yet in other relevant economic data.