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US economy adds robust 215,000 jobs in March

The March jobs report from the Labor Department indicates that the pace of hiring continues on its upward trend.

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A sanitation worker throws a stepladder into his truck in North Andover, Mass., March 23. The US labor market added 215,000 jobs in March, according to the latest Labor Department jobs report issued Friday.

Elise Amendola/AP

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The latest jobs report from the Labor Department gives reason to be optimistic about the economy.

The job market continued its robust growth last month. The US economy added 215,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department said in a report released Friday. Unemployment rose slightly, from 4.9 to 5.0 percent, as job seekers both enter and re-enter the job market.

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It’s a sign that the US labor market has managed to avoid the slowing global economy that has been punctuated by rock-bottom fuel prices and China’s tumultuous stock market.

"This is a vote of confidence on the part of workers regarding the health of the US economy," Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS, an economic consulting firm, told The Associated Press.

Economists estimated that America’s job market would grow by 205,000 in March, with the unemployment rate remaining at 4.9 percent.

Industries with the biggest gains were retail, construction, and healthcare, which is consistent with the Labor Department’s long-term forecasts for these industries. The manufacturing and mining industries experienced job losses.

The recent hiring boom has been coupled with more robust wage growth. In March, workers saw their average hourly wages rise by 0.3 percent since February and 2.3 percent from where they were a year earlier, to $25.43.

March’s hiring gains, while not as large as the 292,000 added jobs in December or 242,000 added jobs in February, demonstrates that businesses are confident enough in the overall condition of the economy to add employees. The continued upward swing in hiring has led some economists to question how far the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. In the short term, analysts say, it’s not likely that these strong hiring trends will have an impact on rates.

“The rise in participation is creating breathing room, allowing the Fed to react very slowly to a strong labor market," Ethan Harris, global economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York, told Reuters.

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For now, the Reserve appears focused outward, examining how developments in world oil prices and slower global economic growth will affect the US economy.

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.