US job gains smallest in 7 months; jobless rate stays at 5 percent

Associated Press

U.S. employers pulled back on hiring in April after a streak of solid monthly gains, adding 160,000 jobs, the fewest in seven months.

In this Wednesday, March 30, 2016, photo, companies speak with job seekers at a job fair in Pittsburgh. On Thursday, April 21, 2016, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits the week before. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The unemployment rate remained at a low of 5 percent, roughly the same level it has been since the fall.

The job gain was down from the average increase of 200,000 over the past three months, which is the softest three-month pace since October.

The slowdown may raise concerns that weak U.S. economic growth has discouraged some employers from hiring. The economy’s growth has slumped to a sluggish 1 percent annual rate since October.

But wage gains showed signs of picking up. Average hourly pay rose 2.5 percent from a year earlier, above the sluggish 2 percent pace that has been typical for the past six years.