US added robust 273K jobs in February before virus escalated

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Hiring jumped in February as employers added 273,000 jobs, evidence that the economy was in strong shape before the coronavirus began to sweep through the U.S.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, matching a 50-year low, down from 3.6% in the previous month.

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The job gain comes from a survey of payrolls in the second week of February, so the healthy gains pre-date the viral outbreak.