Fewer jobs than expected were created in the US during March, but rather than suggesting a burgeoning weak spot in its economy, many believe the slowdown in jobs growth is emblematic of a tightening labour market.
The evidence? Growth in average hourly earnings - a plausible sign that employers are keen to hold on to staff, who are becoming increasingly difficult to find on labour exchanges.
Non-farm payrolls for March rose by 103,000, down sharply from the 326,000 jobs created during February and missing expectations of a rise of 193,000.
The rate of unemployment remained at February's level of 4.1%, missing market expectations of a dip back down to 4%.
Most encouraging, however, was the 0.3% increase in average hourly earnings, helping wage growth climb to an annual rate of 2.7% in March - up from February's 2.6%.
Tightening labour market
The big negative surprise on the number of jobs created in March caused a knee-jerk negative reaction on the currency markets, but few analysts believe it will deter the Federal Reserve from its target of four rate increases this year.
Indeed, many believe that slowdown in the creation of jobs is inevitable, given the pattern of strong jobs growth in previous reports and a shrinking in the pool of labour available.
"Other surveys have pointed to the fact that it is becoming harder and harder for firms to find staff," says James Smith at ING.
Jacob Deppe, head of trading at Infinox, agrees: "As the US inches closer to full employment, it’s getting increasingly tough for American companies to find the staff they need to grow."
Such was one of the findings in Monday's IHS Markit purchasing manager survey of the US manufacturing sector, where the rate of job creation remained strong, but dipped to a four-month low.
Smith adds: "This means that a gradual slowdown in jobs growth is to be expected. But it also suggests that wage pressures are building – and that’s the message from today’s figures."
The likely inflationary impact, however, is being ignored by the markets which are currently only seeing a weak number.
If wages are continuing to rise as growth in job creation is slowing, it is highly likely that employers are coming under pressure from an increasingly confident workforce to raise their pay.
"While wage inflation could be taken as a sign of the strength of the US economy, coupled with the slowing rate of job creation it’s also a strong hint of how tight the labour market is getting," adds Deppe.
David Lamb, head of dealing at Fexco Corporate Payments, expresses a similar sentiment: "As the average American’s paypacket creeps up, this is an encouraging sign not just of economic strength, but also of stronger spending to come.
"All of which should keep the Federal Reserve firmly on track to raise interest rates further this year."
Deppe warns, however: "This isn’t just a speed bump for economic growth, but the prospect of rising inflation is also likely to increase the Fed’s willingness to hike interest rates."
Manufacturers surveyed in recent purchasing manager reports showed activity in the sector was back up to a three-year high as rising demand fuelled further increases in factory production.
Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit said following Monday's report: "Optimism about the year ahead has risen to its highest for three years, generating yet another solid payroll gain and suggesting strong growth momentum will be sustained in the second quarter."
While the service sector report showed a slight slowdown in growth, strong inflows of new orders suggested momentum was carrying into the second quarter.
Some have been concerned prior to Friday's payrolls report that President Trump's new trade tariffs, and the subsequent retaliation by China and other nations, will have some impact on jobs growth in March.
But for now, these fears appear unwarranted: any hit on economic growth from trade tariffs is likely to come in future data as the effects feed through.
"Although of course, policymakers will have a firm eye on escalating global trade tensions," says Smith at ING.
The dollar, which has been on something of a rally in recent sessions, fell as dollar bulls used the data as an opportunity to take a breather.
The dollar index - a weighted measure of the currency's strength against six of its main rivals - fell 0.3%. The euro rose 0.23% to $122.69 and the pound rose 0.68% to $1.4096.