[Update 1: adds House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank statement] The economy added 162,000 jobs in March, marking the largest monthly pickup in three years, as the US government added around 50,000 temporary workers to the labor force to help complete the 2010 Census. Contraction in the financial services sector led to the elimination of more than 20,000 jobs, according to the latest data from the US Department of Labor (DOL). This month, 15m people were unemployed. The overall unemployment rate remained at 9.7% in March, unchanged from February, the DOL said. At the same time, the broader index of both un- and under-employment -- called the U-6 measure -- increased marginally to 16.9%, from 16.8% in February. The number of people working part time for economic reasons -- like scaled back hours or an inability to find a full-time job -- increased to 9.1m. Another 2.3m people were "marginally attached" to the labor force, meaning they are unemployed and have not looked for work in at least four weeks, according to the DOL. The 2010 Census added 48,000 temporary positions in March. Although that figure was less than some expectations of 100,000 in the month, it helped alleviate fears the volume of jobs added in March would be exaggerated by the Census hirings. The financial activities sector shed 21,000 jobs in March, with the largest loss -- -9,000 jobs -- occurring at insurance carriers and related activities, DOL said. The construction industry held steady -- +15,000 jobs -- this month, after losing an average 72,000 jobs each month over the last 12 months. House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) said the growth in employment is "welcome evidence" of early economic recovery. "But this beginning of good news does not mean that we should cut back on our job creation efforts," he said in a statement e-mailed to reporters today. "More needs to be done by the Federal government to help job creation -- especially for the more than six million Americans who have been unemployed for more than six months, and these early signs of success are arguments in favor of further action.” Write to Diana Golobay.