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Payroll growth across the country was sluggish in March as employers added just 110,000 jobs, the smallest increase since July. Nevertheless, the labor market accommodated enough people to drop the unemployment rate to 5.2 percent.

The new figures, released by the Labor Department today, offered another mixed picture of America's hiring climate. The job market has been the sector of the economy that has been among the slowest to recover from the last recession.

Payroll growth, as measured by a survey of businesses, slowed in March. Job losses at factories and in the retail sector tempered gains in professional and business services, construction, education and health services and in other industries.

The 110,000 jobs added in March marked the smallest gain since last July, when payrolls grew by a tepid 83,000.

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