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US unemployment below nine per cent
For the first time in two years, unemployment in the US has fallen below nine per cent, raising hopes that the US is well on it way to recovery.
A report from the Labor Department says the economy created nearly 200,000 new jobs last month.
The new numbers were much better than the 63,000 jobs created in January and capped three months that have seen the unemployment rate fall by almost one percentage point.
US President Barack Obama talked up the new figures, pointing out that the economy had created 1.5 million private-sector jobs over the past years.
But he warned that the US needed to keep building on that momentum.
Last month some 30,000 public employees were laid off by federal or state authorities, but these losses were more than offset by private companies creating over 200,000 new jobs.
Fears remain that rising oil prices caused by uprisings in the Middle East could have an impact on private-sector hiring, although the report claimed that higher prices can be absorbed without doing much damage to consumer spending or profits.