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Unemployment Falling Broadly Across US

A worker does his job along the San Antonio River Walk in San Antonio, Texas, after the river was drained to clean out silt and make repairs, Jan. 7, 2011

The U.S. government says the unemployment rate fell broadly across the country in March as employers hired more workers.

Overall, the federal government's Labor Department said Tuesday that the unemployment rate fell in 34 of the country's 50 states, with the percentage of jobless workers increasing in seven states and remaining the same in the remainder of states and in the national capital of Washington. Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 8.8 percent in March, a two-year low.

The government said that employers hired more workers in 38 states, while the rest of the states and the city of Washington, D.C., lost jobs.

Analysts said the employment figures show that the nation's job market is gaining strength and that employers are becoming confident enough about the country's economic recovery to hire more workers.

But one segment of the U.S. economy remains particularly troublesome - housing.

The government said that home construction rose more than 7 percent last month to an annual rate of 549,000 units. That pace, however, is far below the 1.2 million-a-year rate that economists consider healthy.

U.S. housing construction has been sharply curtailed in the aftermath of the biggest downturn in the national economy in 70 years. Millions of American homeowners, many of whom were laid off from their jobs, lost their homes in foreclosures by financial institutions when they could no longer make their monthly loan payments. Now there is a glut of homes for sale in the U.S. at greatly reduced prices.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.