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) -- Nonfarm payrolls grew by 192,000 in February while the unemployment rate fell to 8.9% in the Labor Department's

Employent Situation Report

released Friday morning.

Expectations for the report were lifted Wednesday after the

ADP reported private sector payroll increase of 217,000 in February. The Labor Department said Thursday

initial jobless claims for the week ended Feb. 26 dropped 20,000 to 368,000, their lowest level since May 2008.

Economists were expecting a

strong rebound in February , reversing the impact of severe weather on jobs in January. The consensus called for private sector job growth of 198,000, according to estimates from

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Even as different sections of the economy show signs of returning strength (both manufacturing and services data reported earlier this week were stronger-than-expected), the payrolls data hadn't shown a significant recovery in the job market.

-- Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York

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