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The Associated Press

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US unemployment falls to 7.8 percent, a 44-month low

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years and giving President Barack Obama a potential boost with the election a month away.

The rate dropped from 8.1 percent because the number of people who were employed according to a government survey soared by 873,000 â¿¿ the biggest monthly jump since 2003.

It was an encouraging sign for an economy that's been struggling to create enough jobs. So was the fact that more people decided to look for work in September.

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California refinery back online amid soaring prices

LOS ANGELES (AP) â¿¿ Californians woke up to a shock Friday as overnight gasoline prices jumped by as much as 20 cents a gallon in some areas, ending a week of soaring costs that saw some stations close and others charge record prices.

The average price of regular gas across the state was nearly $4.49 a gallon, the highest in the nation, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge report.

In Southern California, the price jumped 20 cents a gallon overnight to $4.53 in Ventura. And in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area prices went up 19 cents to nearly $4.54. It wasn't any better to the north, as a gallon of regular in San Francisco averaged nearly $4.60.

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CBO tallies 2012 deficit at $1.1 trillion

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ A new estimate puts the deficit for the just-completed 2012 budget year at $1.1 trillion, the fourth straight year of trillion dollar deficits on President Barack Obama's watch.

The result was a slight, $207 billion improvement from the 2011 deficit of $1.3 trillion.

The bleak figures from the Congressional Budget Office, while expected, add fodder for the heated presidential campaign, in which Obama's handling of the economy and the budget is a main topic. Friday's release came as the government announced that the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent last month, matching the rate when Obama took office.

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