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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. job market slowed in March as companies hit the brakes on hiring amid uncertainty about the economy's growth prospects. The unemployment rate dipped, but mostly because more Americans stopped looking for work.
The Labor Department said Friday that the economy added 120,000 jobs in March, down from more than 200,000 in each of the previous three months.
The unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent. The rate has dropped nearly a full percentage point since August and is now at its lowest level since January 2009.
But the rate dropped last month because fewer people searched for jobs. The official unemployment tally only includes those seeking work.
Despite the pullback in March, the economy has added 858,000 jobs since December — the best four months of hiring in two years.
A mild winter may have partially influenced the hiring in March. January and February were unusually warm, which allowed construction firms and other companies to hire people for outdoor work several weeks earlier than usual — effectively stealing jobs from March.
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