Call it a warm winter hangover.

Friday’s news that the U.S. economy added only 120,000 jobs in March disappointed economists and investors who were expecting employment gains closer to 205,000. But one of the theories that emerged to explain the sudden drop-off was that the mild winter spurred hiring in some sectors — construction, retail sales and temporary help — so much so that employers felt they didn’t need to add more to their rosters last month.

"This could be a bit of a payback for it," Anika Khan, an economist with Wells Fargo, said the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest job report. "We could see some of the payback next month as well."

We’ll also probably see some payback early next week.

Stock markets were closed Friday for Good Friday, but economists expect the bad numbers will weigh on investors’ minds come the start of trading Monday morning. How fierce the reaction will be remains to be seen. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney quickly seized on the numbers as a sign the economy is stagnant; President Obama called it a mere bump in the road to recovery.

Clarity from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has warned the payroll gains might slow and who is scheduled to give a policy speech Monday night, may restore calm in the marketplace on Tuesday. But despite the hope of many, it is unlikely he will unleash a new round of economic stimulus, economists said.


Information from: The Star-Ledger,