The U.S. economy gained 216,000 jobs in March while private sector employment (excludes government losses) increased by 230,000, according to the National Urban League's State of Urban Jobs report.

The unemployment rate changed little - now 8.8 percent (from 8.9 percent in February) - though it did fall for the fourth straight month.

The black unemployment rate increased slightly to 15.5 percent (from 15.3 percent). The unemployment rate for black men was up to 16.8 percent (from 16.2 percent); for black women, down to 12.5 percent (from 13.0 percent); for black teens, up to 42.1 percent (from 38.4 percent).

Together with February's revised numbers of 194,000 net total job growth and 240,000 net private jobs, this represents the fastest two-month pace since before the recession.

The number of unemployed people in March declined to 13.5 million, while the labor force participation rate was unchanged.

The largest private sector job growth occurred in professional and business services (78,000-plus), education and health (45,000-plus ), and leisure and hospitality (37,000-plus).

Most losses were concentrated in government , with local governments shedding 15,000 jobs in March.

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