The U.S. economy only added 88,000 new jobs in March 2013, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The numbers represent a nearly 67 percent decline from February 2013, when the economy added an adjusted 267,000 jobs. March's job numbers also fell far short of the 12 month average of 169,000 positions per month.
The figures also came in far below the almost 200,000 jobs analysts had predicted the economy would add in March.
"We all overshot it," Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, told CNBC. "This is a punch to the gut. I mean, this is not a good number."
Despite the weaker than expected report, some market sectors did show strength. Construction added 18,000 new positions during March 2013, while healthcare saw its workforce increase by 23,000 workers. The largest upswing in hiring was seen in business and professional services, which added a total of 51,000 new jobs.
The retail industry declined by 24,000 positions in March 2013 after adding an average of 32,000 jobs per month during the previous 6 months.
Government employment also declined, losing a total of 7,000 jobs during the time period.
These March figures represent unadjusted data, and both January and February 2013 saw large upward adjustments after initial figures were released.