Washington: The United States added a modest 192,000 jobs in March as the economy emerged from a brutal winter, while the unemployment rate held steady, Labor Department data showed on Friday .
Job growth in the world's largest economy was a shade below analysts' average estimate of 195,000 net new jobs, and widely missed other estimates in the 200,000 range.
Still, the overall picture was more upbeat about a first quarter plagued by unusually bad winter weather in much of the country.
The department revised job growth for the prior two months up a net 37,000. February's number was hiked by 22,000 to 197,000.
The March unemployment rate was unchanged from February's 6.7 percent, disappointing expectations of a dip. The number of unemployed held steady at 10.5 million. Both measures have shown little movement since December.
Still, the March pace of job creation was better than the average of 183,000 over the prior 12 months.
"The post-winter rebound we hoped for did not happen, but the winter hit was smaller than previously believed," said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.
"Payrolls have now returned to their pre-winter trend of just under 200,000 per month, more than enough to keep the unemployment rate trending down, unless the labor force begins to expand more rapidly."
The markets took the mostly in-line numbers in stride. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.15 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.23 percent in morning trade.
The euro was changed little against the dollar.
"Overall, the employment data won't change any perceptions that the economy is growing at a decent but sluggish pace," Briefing.Com said.
"More importantly, the data also won't change any perceptions as to how the Fed might act."
More people were employed and actively seeking jobs in March, suggesting increased confidence in job prospects. The participation rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 63.2 percent.
March's job gains were exclusively in the private sector, though the number of new private nonfarm payrolls came in well below the 205,000 anticipated. Government added no jobs following a gain of 9,000 in February.