April 4 (Bloomberg) — Employers in the U.S. boosted payrolls in March and the unemployment rate held at 6.7 percent even as more Americans entered the labor force, showing steady progress that may prompt Federal Reserve policy makers to continue reducing stimulus while keeping interest rates low.

Payrolls rose 192,000 after a 197,000 gain in February that was larger than first estimated, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists projected a 200,000 gain. Private employment, which excludes government jobs, surpassed the pre-recession peak for the first time.

Employment in January and February was revised higher, showing the effect on the labor market from inclement winter weather was less severe than previously thought. The gain puts payroll growth in step with the average over the past two years and shows companies are optimistic about the outlook for demand.

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