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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
US unemployment rises
Auto worker
The US manufacturing sector is looking healthier
Unemployment in the United States keeps rising, and in March reached a rate of 5.7%.

It is the highest rate since December, and well above February's rate of 5.5%, the US Labor Department said.

Some analysts were disappointed by the figures.

"It certainly suggests we are going to have a relatively slow expansion at this moment", said Delos Smith, analyst at the Conference Board in New York.

But the rise in the unemployment rate was accompanied by more positive economic news which showed signs that the US economy is recovering.

Job creation

During March, 58,000 new jobs were created in the US outside the agricultural sector.

The March rise in non-farm payrolls was a much sharper rise than analysts had expected.

The rise in non-farm payrolls was the first since last July after the February figure was revised sharply downwards.

Last month, the Labor Department had estimated a rise of 66,000. The figure was then revised to a 2,000 fall.

"The data for March and for February provide a marked contrast to the average monthly job losses of 144,000 that prevailed from March 2001 through January 2002," said Lois Orr, acting commissioner for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The employment report is very encouraging," said Brian Pears, head of equity trading at Victory Capital Management.

"We all want to make sure that all the economic data points to recovery and this report makes the case for that."

Temporary jobs

The service sector accounted for the bulk of the new jobs, though many of them were with temporary work agencies.

This suggests that although business is strong for service sector companies, many of them remain wary about taking on permanent staff.

Many of the new jobs were with government agencies rather than with companies in the private sector.

Employment in the construction and manufacturing sectors continued to slip, but the good news, analysts said, was that industry was losing jobs more slowly than in recent months

.

See also:

01 Feb 02 | Business
US recession fears ease
02 Nov 01 | Business
US unemployment rockets
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