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U.S. Unemployment Rate Dips to 5.1 Percent

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The nation's economy added 173,000 jobs in August—not as many as economists had forecast, but enough to drop the United States' unemployment rate to 5.1 percent, its lowest level since March 2008.

The U.S. Labor Department reported this morning that August saw strong advances in health care, professional and business services, and the leisure and hospitality industries. Meanwhile, federal, state and local governments added 33,000 to their payrolls.

Additionally, the Labor Department revised its July figures, saying approximately 245,000 jobs had been added to the economy during that month. The length of the average workweek also expanded.

Friday's jobs report takes on extra urgency as the Federal Reserve meets Sept. 16-17, when it is expected to increase its benchmark interest rate.