The U.S. jobless rate unexpectedly fell to 8.9 percent in February, the lowest in almost two years, and employers added 192,000 jobs in a sign of growing confidence in the recovery.The increase in payrolls partly reflected a return to more seasonable weather and followed a 63,000 gain in January, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of economists was for an addition of 196,000 jobs last month.
Manufacturing, construction and transportation were among industries adding workers, underscoring Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s testimony to Congress this week that there are “grounds for optimism” about improvements in the labor market. Employment growth is giving Americans the means to keep spending at retailers such as J.C. Penney Co. andMacy’s Inc. (M)
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