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U.S. adds just 20K jobs in February


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WASHINGTON — Hiring tumbled in February, with U.S. employers adding just 20,000 jobs, the smallest monthly gain in nearly a year and a half.

The sharp slowdown in hiring, which might have been worsened by unseasonably cold weather, came after employers had added a blockbuster 311,000 jobs in January, the most in nearly a year. In the past three months, job gains have averaged a solid 186,000.

Still, the pullback comes amid signs that growth is slowing because of a weaker global economy, a trade war between the United States and China, and signs of caution among consumers.

The unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent last month from 4 percent in January, the Labor Department said in its monthly jobs report. Businesses stepped up their competition for workers and raised average hourly pay 3.4 percent from a year earlier, the largest gain in a decade.:snip:

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