Today: The federal government's jobs report shows a big dip in the number of jobs created by the U.S. economy in March. Also: Fallout from Yahoo (YHOO) layoffs continues, and Pinterest continues to attract a bigger crowd.

Job growth paused in March, possibly due to odd weather

The United States' streaking labor market finally cooled off in March, the federal government reported Friday, as the number of jobs created came in far below economists' estimates and the healthy numbers reported through the winter.

The Labor Department reported that the U.S. economy added 120,000 jobs in March, breaking a string of three straight months of adding more than 200,000 jobs and coming in far below the average economist estimate of 203,000 calculated by Thomson Reuters.

While the number of jobs created fell, the unemployment rate still managed to dip for the month, from 8.3 percent to 8.2 percent. However, that was not good news: The decrease was caused by unemployed workers giving up their job search more than the addition of new jobs.


Advertisement

One of the most prominent theories about why the job growth diminished -- and why it was so strong previously -- is the abnormally warm, dry winters experienced in much of the country. Since hiring usually ramps up in spring, economists have theorized that the hiring experienced in the three months prior to March were greater than normal after being seasonally adjusted, and job growth in March and possibly beyond may suffer as a result.

"An unusually mild winter combined with more aggressive seasonal adjustment than in past years probably boosted economic data in general during the peak winter months, the employment report included. To the extent that this was a factor, it would tend to be unwound over the spring and summer," MFR chief U.S. economist Joshua Shapiro told the Wall Street Journal.

Beyond the general numbers of overall jobs added and unemployment rates, the jobs report presented even more questions. For instance, retailers --who reported strong springs thus far this week -- cut 33,800 jobs one month after chopping 28,600 positions.

"It's puzzling, I don't think it will continue because the reports from retailers have generally been upbeat. I struggle to understand why these numbers would be so negative," Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, told Reuters.

Additionally, the underemployment rate -- which also takes into account those who have stopped looking for work recently and part-time workers who would rather work full-time -- dropped much more than the unemployment rate, from 14.9 percent to 14.5 percent. That drop was brought on by nearly half a million part-time workers not reporting looking for full-time work, either because their hours were increased or because they have given up the chase -- a distinction that cannot be made from the data.

As economists continue to crunch the data, a general consensus is that a one-month dip in job growth is not enough to completely halt the country's economic recovery, but is a cause for concern.

"The road back to strong growth is still filled with potholes which make the trip longer but don't stop the journey," Naroff Economic Advisers wrote.

Yahoo's head of products leaves company in wake of layoffs

One of Yahoo's top executives is leaving the company in the wake of layoffs that will eventually lead to a massive reorganization.

Blake Irving, Yahoo's head of products, will leave the company, as Kara Swisher of AllThingsD originally reported Thursday evening, less than two years after arriving from Microsoft to help then-CEO Carol Bartz revive the struggling Sunnyvale company.

The products division is one of the biggest targets of Yahoo's reorganization, Swisher reported, and will be torn apart and reapportioned elsewhere.

Yahoo anounced Wednesday that it will lay off 2,000 workers and refocus on new core businesses; CEO Scott Thompson, who started at the company in January, plans an all-staff meeting Tuesday to go into further detail on the reorganization.

Pinterest reportedly third most-popular social network in U.S.

An annual report from a marketing-services company released Friday shows that Pinterest is now pulling in the third-most U.S. visitors of any social network, beating LinkedIn and Google+.

The Palo Alto social network is only behind Facebook and Twitter in the number of visitors it attracts thanks to booming interest from women, which make up 60 percent of the audience, Experian Marketing Services reported.

Pinterest, barely more than two years old, offers users digital bulletin boards that allow them to collect and share digital images that connect to websites.

While other ranking services show Pinterest still trailing LinkedIn, the site is obviously growing despite still being invite-only -- Experian tracked growth of 50 percent from January to February in the number of visitors to the site.

Silicon Valley tech stocks

Markets were closed for Good Friday.

Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak.