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US added modest 103K jobs in March, rate stays 4.1%

an employee of Aldi, right, takes an application from a job applicant at a JobNewsUSA job fair

U.S. employers added a modest 103,000 jobs in March after several months of bigger gains, though the government's jobs report suggests the labor market remains healthy. | AP file photo

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers added a modest 103,000 jobs in March after several months of bigger gains, though the government’s jobs report suggests the labor market remains healthy.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate remained 4.1 percent, a 17-year low, for the sixth straight month. Average hourly pay ticked up, climbing 2.7 percent compared with a year earlier.

Hiring has accelerated since last fall, defying expectations that a shortage of workers would make it harder for companies to fill open positions. Employers have added a healthy average of 211,000 jobs a month in the past six months.

Still, hiring in January was revised sharply lower to 176,000, while February’s figure was revised higher to a blockbuster 326,000. Overall, the revisions lowered job gains in those two months by 50,000.