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Ann Oganesian, left, of Newton, Mass., pauses as she speaks with a State Department employee about job opportunities with the federal government during a job fair in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A burst of hiring last month added 236,000 U.S. jobs and reduced the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January. The robust gains suggested that the economy can strengthen further despite higher taxes and government spending cuts.

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