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WASHINGTON (AP) — The unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent in February as employers shed 36,000 jobs, fewer than expected. The figures suggested the job market is slowly healing but that significant hiring has yet to occur.
The Labor Department said it wouldn't quantify how the snowstorms that hammered the East Coast last month affected job losses. Some data in the report signaled the storms didn't reduce payrolls as much as had been feared.
Economists had estimated that the storms could inflate job losses by 100,000 or more. That would mean the economy generated a net gain in jobs last month, excluding the impact of the snow, for only the second time since the recession began in December 2007.
The department revised its estimate of job losses for January from 20,000 to 26,000.
Hiring for the 2010 Census accounted for 15,000 jobs, the department said. The government expects to hire 1 million temporary census workers this year.
Many economists predicted the snowstorms would artificially inflate job losses. The storms occurred in the week that the government surveys businesses about their payrolls. Employees who couldn't make it to work and weren't paid aren't included on those payrolls.
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