The job market rebounded from a two-month slump in February as employers added 175,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate rose to 6.7% from 6.6%, the Labor Department said Friday.
Economists surveyed by Action Economics estimated that 157,000 jobs were added last month.
Businesses added 162,000 jobs. Federal, state and local governments added 13,000.
Job gains for December and January were revised up by a total 25,000. December's were revised to 84,000 from 75,000 and January's to 129,000 from 113,000.
Many analysts had predicted another month of tepid job gains after a survey by private payroll processor ADP showed businesses added just 139,000 jobs last month. A measure of service-sector employment also fell sharply in February and reports on housing, retail sales and factory output have been weak amid an unusually cold and stormy winter.
Monthly job gains averaged 200,000-plus last fall before the adverse weather helped lower average gains to about half that in December and January. Yet some economists say other factors also have hurt the economy and labor market, such as a slowdown in business stockpiling after firms aggressively replenished shelves late last year.