March nonfarm payrolls up 216,000, rate at 8.8% (by Greg Robb)
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Job growth accelerated in March, the Labor Department said Friday. Total nonfarm payrolls increased by 216,000, higher than the 192,000 gain expected by Wall Street economists. The unemployment rate ticked lower to 8.8% in March from 8.9% in the previous month. This is the lowest unemployment rate since March 2009. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to rise to 9.0%. Average hourly earnings were flat at $22.87. Economists had been expecting a 0.2% gain. Earnings are up 1.7% in the past year. The average workweek was unchanged at 34.3 hours.