WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy posted a second straight month of solid gains in March as the nation’s jobless rate fell to a two-year low of 8.8 percent, marking a decisive shift in the labor market that should help to underpin the economic recovery.
Businesses created 216,000 jobs last month, according to the Labor Department’s latest employment report, after adding 192,000 jobs in February. The past two months mark the fastest two-month pace of job creation since before the recession began. Factories, retailers, education, health care and an array of professional and financial services expanded payrolls.Another month of brisk hiring provided the latest sign that the economy is strengthening nearly two years after the recession ended.Click on graph to enlarge. The low point at the center of the graph marks the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of the Obama administration.