US employers scaled back hiring in April and the unemployment rate unexpectedly rose, suggesting some cooling is underway in the labor market after a strong start to the year.

Nonfarm payrolls advanced 175,000 last month, the smallest gain in six months, a Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed Friday. The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.9% and wage gains slowed.

Friday’s report signaled further evidence that demand for workers is moderating, but the data likely don’t amount to “an unexpected weakening” that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said would warrant a policy response.

After holding interest rates steady for a sixth straight meeting this week, Powell said he thinks policy is restrictive as seen by weaker demand for labor, though it still exceeds the supply of available workers. As inflation has largely receded from its 2022 peak, officials are now also focused on ensuring maximum employment, he said Wednesday.

Treasury yields and the dollar fell, while stock futures rose after the report.

The jobs report follows a slew of releases earlier in the week that suggested wage pressures continue to bite even as demand for workers cools somewhat. Friday’s data showed average hourly earnings climbed 0.2% from March and 3.9% from a year ago, the slowest pace since June 2021.

Some economists were expecting a stronger increase in part due to a new California law mandating a $20 minimum wage for fast-food workers, which took effect April 1.

Job growth slowed within leisure and hospitality, construction and government. Payrolls declined at automakers and temporary-help providers. Gains were concentrated in health care, transportation and retail trade.

Aggregate weekly payrolls, a broad measure of employment, hours and earnings, were unchanged from a month earlier. That snapped three straight years of monthly advances and, if sustained, raises the risk of a downshift in consumer demand.

The very gradual cooling in hiring and wage growth is part of the reason why policymakers have indicated they’re in no rush to bring interest rates down from a two-decade high. Powell has also nodded to an increase in the supply of workers, boosted in particular by an influx of immigrants.

The participation rate — the share of the population that is working or looking for work — held steady at 62.7%. The rate for workers aged 25-54 ticked up to 83.5%, matching the highest level in two decades. Increased participation will help to restrain wage growth.

The jobs report is composed of two surveys: one of businesses that generates the payrolls and wage data, and another smaller one of households used to produce the unemployment rate.

The household survey also publishes its own measure of employment, which rose by just 25,000 in April after surging by nearly half a million in the prior month. That may revive questions as to why such a large gap remains between this figure and the headline payrolls number.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.