Unemployment drops to 8.8 percent

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The government said non-farm payroll employment rose by 216,000 in March, although the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job gains occurred in professional and business services, health care, leisure and hospitality, and mining. Employment in manufacturing continued to trend higher.

The number of unemployed people (13.5 million) and the unemployment rate changed little in March. The labor force also was little changed during the month.

The jobless rate was 8.9 percent in February. It has declined by one percentage point since November.

The number of job losers and people who completed temporary jobs, at 8.2 million, was little changed in March, but has fallen by 1.3 million since last November. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 6.1 million in March; their share of the unemployed increased from 43.9 percent to 45.5 percent during the month.

Last month, 2.4 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, up slightly from a year earlier. They weren't in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the previous 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks that preceded the survey.

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