The retail sales report also raises the possibility that nasty winter weather can't entirely explain the recent lackluster consumer spending in prior months, since the anticipated spring rebound has not materialized.
Last month's subpar hiring could make the Federal Reserve less likely to start raising interest rates from record lows in June, as some have been anticipating. The Fed might now decide that the economy still needs the benefit of low borrowing costs.
The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent from 5.7 percent, the government said Friday. But the rate declined mainly because some people out of work stopped looking for jobs and were no longer counted as unemployed.
Hoosier businesses and consumers face a dynamic not seen in a generation—a dollar significantly more muscular than many competing currencies. Experts predict the dollar’s clout and the pros and cons of that power will endure for a year and possibly as long as three.