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US added a strong 678,000 jobs in February in sign of economic health

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WASHINGTON — U.S. employers added 678,000 jobs in February, another solid gain that underscored the economy's robust health as the omicron wave fades and more Americans venture out to spend at restaurants, shops and hotels despite surging inflation.

The Labor Department's report Friday also showed that the unemployment rate dropped from 4% to 3.8%, extending a sharp drop in joblessness as the economy has rebounded from the pandemic recession.

According to CNBC, Friday's report largely exceeded expectations from analysts.

February's gains came a month after U.S. employers added 467,000 jobs in January. That report pleasantly surprised analysts who projected losses amid the record spread of COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant.

However, Americans are still dealing with high inflation rates, causing the prices of goods and services to skyrocket. The Federal Reserve noted in January that a key measure of prices had increased nearly 6% in the last year — the sharpest increase since 1982.

Those issues have been compounded by the rising cost of oil caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to AAA, the average price of gasoline in the U.S. is more than a dollar more expensive per gallon than it was a year ago.

The Fed has already signaled that it plans to raise key interest rates this month in the hopes of curbing inflation.