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US economy adds 196,000 jobs, beating expectations

The U.S. economy added a surprisingly robust 196,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department reported on Friday, rebounding from a weak month that prompted markets to question the strength of the labor market.

March’s jobs data exceeded the expectations of Wall Street economists, who were expecting the economy to add 175,000 non-farm payrolls in March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Meanwhile, February’s sharply lower-than-expected 20,000 job additions were revised up to 33,000.

The unemployment rate checked in at 3.8%, the same pace of increase as in February, according to consensus economists polled by Bloomberg.

The labor force participation rate was 63.0%, marginally weaker than Wall Street’s consensus forecasts of 63.2%.

The hot jobs market is also putting more money in workers’ pockets. Data showed that average hourly earnings grew 3.2% year-over-year, just below economists expectations of 3.4% growth. Month-over-month, average hourly earnings grew 0.1%, below the 0.4% increase seen in February.

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