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Hiring surge shows signs of strengthening economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a long-awaited surge of hiring, companies added 243,000 jobs in January — across the economy, up and down the pay scale and far more than just about anyone expected. Unemployment fell to 8.3 percent, the lowest in three years.

The job growth was the fastest since last March and April. Before that, the last month with stronger hiring, excluding months skewed by temporary census jobs, was March 2006.

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