By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON - Employers, in a springtime hiring burst, boosted payrolls by a sizable 211,000 in March and pushed the nation's unemployment rate down to 4.7 percent.

The latest snapshot, released by the Labor Department on Friday, suggested that an accelerating economic expansion is putting companies in the hiring mood, brightening prospects for job seekers.

Hiring gains were fairly widespread. Construction, financial activities, education and health care and government were among the sectors posting payroll gains. That help to blunt job losses in manufacturing and in the transportation industries.

The unemployment rate, which dropped from February's 4.8 percent, ended up matching January's jobless rate, which was the lowest in 4 1/2 years.

Employment was stronger in March than economists were expecting. Before the release of the report, they were forecasting a gain of 190,000 jobs and they said they believed the overall civilian jobless rate would hold steady.

In the bizarro world, a strong economy is bad news, baby. Full employment...More bad news. More opportunity, even more bad news. A lack of faith in a brighter future - a prerequisite for voting for the party of 'good intentions' and more Katrina death camps.

Hey Democrats! "What have you done for me lately?"