U.S. Labor Department Announces Decline of Jobless Rate to 8.8 Percent

The headline unemployment rate fell to 8.8 percent last month as the U.S. economy enjoyed a net gain of 216,000 new jobs, the Labor Department said Friday.

Joblessness is at its lowest level since March 2009, a few months before the recession officially ended.

Most analysts expected 200,000 new jobs to be created in March and forecast that the unemployment rate would remain steady at 8.9 percent.

Improvements in the job market may finally be taking hold, as strong business hiring last month brought the unemployment rate down to its lowest level in two years.

Wall Street may like the Labor Department’s announcement today that the unemployment rate dipped slightly, to 8.8%, and the economy added 216,000 new jobs in March. But for the legions of still-unemployed and underemployed workers, the news is less promising