US companies likely kept up steady hiring in March

UNDATED (AP) — Economists say March likely was another month of solid job gains.

The survey by FactSet finds that economists believe the Labor Department report due Friday will include the creation of 195,000 jobs, marking a fifth consecutive month of robust employment growth.

The unemployment rate is not expected to change, but the current 7.7 percent figure is a four-year low.

Job gains have accelerated to an average of 205,000 per month from November through February. That’s nearly double the monthly gains from last spring.

Still, several subpar economic reports this week have signaled that the job market may have weakened last month. That could mean companies are worried about government spending cuts that began March 1.

And on Thursday, the government said the number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose last week.

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