The Bureau of Labour Statistics, which released the figures, said that the number of new jobs averaged 201,000 over the first quarter, an improvement on the 182,000 a year ago.
The government also announced Friday that it is revising down its job growth estimates for January and February by a combined 50,000.
While the official unemployment rate held steady for a sixth-straight month in March, the underemployment rate, which captures those out of work and those who want full-time work but are working part-time, moved down to 8% in March after having hit 8.2% the prior month.
The pullback in hiring in March follows an explosive gain in February. Average hourly earnings rose eight cents or 0.3 per cent last month after edging up 0.1 per cent in February.
The numbers: The U.S. gained just 103,000 new jobs in March to mark the smallest increase since last fall, but the latest report on employment (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm) still shows the tightest labor market in almost two decades.
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Ashworth added that while March's job gains were weaker than expected, "there is still evidence of an acceleration in the underlying pace of employment growth... looking through the volatility, employment growth is trending higher and wage growth is starting to heat up". "The job market is widely regarded to be close to full employment".
Mining also saw an influx of 9,000 new jobs.
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index were set to open sharply lower in Friday trades, taking their cut from the president's new announcement he may slap China with tariffs on another $100 billion of goods. The number equates to 2.7 percent on an annualized basis. Monthly payroll gains have averaged 201,000 this year, compared with 182,000 in 2017. Investors expected two more rate hikes this year.
The average workweek for all employees was unchanged at 34.5 hours in March.
The proportion of adults in their prime working years - defined as ages 25 to 54 - who are either working or looking for jobs reached the highest level in almost seven years in February, before declining last month. That runs counter to economists' expectation for hiring to broadly ease as the labor market tightens.