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US jobless rate hits two-year low

The US economy added 216,000 jobs last month, with the gains driving the country's unemployment rate to a two-year low of 8.8 per cent, according to official figures released yesterday.

The Labour Department report showed the largest increase in non-farm payrolls since May, boding well for recovery in the world's largest economy.

Figures for January and February were also revised upwards to show some 7,000 more jobs than previously reported.

Encouragingly for policymakers, the private sector drove the rise, contributing 230,000 new positions last month. Government employment, on the other hand, fell by 14,000 to record its fifth consecutive month of decline.

Though positive, economists warned that the recovery continued to face risks. "The numbers are obviously good and one can hope that we will continue to see the market rise in continuing months," Bernard Baumohl, chief economist at the Princeton-based Economic Outlook Group, said.

"That said, there's a nagging concern that the job outlook may be in jeopardy as energy prices keep escalating."