WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – The American economy sputtered in March with just 88,000 new jobs created. That was a large drop-off from the previous month’s 268,000 new jobs added to the workforce.

It’s also the third consecutive spring in which employers tapered off their hiring, even accounting for seasonal changes. Previous slowdowns were attributed to the European debt debacle, but outside of the payroll tax hike, economists were not sure what caused the anemic job growth.

READ MORE: Panthers Score Four Goals In Third To Beat Capitals 5-4

The unemployment rate did drop to 7.6 percent in March from 7.7 percent in February, but it wasn’t from new jobs gained, but rather, thousands of people simply dropped out of the labor force completely, or at least couldn’t receive unemployment benefits any more.

According to the New York Times, the labor force participation rate of 63.3 percent was at its lowest point since 1979. The Times said Baby Boomer retirements accounted for a portion of the decline, but the majority came from an economy that is still not growing jobs, but rather embracing austerity.

READ MORE: ‘Grateful To Be Out Here & Have Fun’: Dolphins LB Jerome Baker Meets With Students & Special Olympians Ahead Of International Day Of Persons With Disabilities

The stock market took an immediate dive when they opened after the unemployment data was released by the Labor Department.

The numbers showed gains were mainly in professional and business services and health care, while the government continued to shed jobs, just like it has for most of the last four years, according to the Times.

MORE NEWS: The Votes Are In For The CBS4 Nat Moore 🏆 And 'Winning Would Mean A Lot' To All The Finalists

Economists said the government numbers won’t be helped in the coming months as the sequestration cuts force multiple divisions of the government to make major cuts to meet their newly reduced budgets.