The American economy added 308,000 (2.4%) more nonfarm workers onto its payroll in March. The growth in jobs generally spread across the board, with noted jumps in employment in the construction and service industries, according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics released today.

The construction sector added 71,000 jobs (1.0%) after shedding 21,000 in February— an indication that weather conditions affected hiring. Manufacturing jobs, a hot issue for the coming presidential election, held steady at 14.3 million, to halt employment losses for the first time since July 2000. Truck transportation jobs saw a negligible increase of 600 jobs to 1.3 million.

Meanwhile the unemployment rate held steady at 5.7%. Both the March and February figures are preliminary and subject to revision. However, if the figures are an accurate indication of job growth, the Bush administration would have some relief for its Achilles heel— the economy.