orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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March 6, 2013

Fed survey: US economy growing throughout country

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in January when the Fed last met.

The economy has shown improvement since then, even as Americans paid higher taxes and automatic government spending cuts loomed. On Jan. 1, nearly all Americans who draw a paycheck began paying higher Social Security taxes and income taxes rose for the highest earning workers.

The tax increases and broader budget debate in Washington haven't slowed financial markets.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed Tuesday at a record high and kept rising Wednesday. The index of 30 big corporations has more than doubled since hitting a low during the financial crisis in March 2009.

Consumer confidence rose in February from January, according to surveys by both the Conference Board and the University of Michigan. Factories and service companies both grew at the fastest pace in at least a year, according to surveys issued Friday and Tuesday by the Institute for Supply Management.

And payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that U.S. businesses added 198,000 jobs in February. The private survey also revised January's hiring figures to show companies added 215,000 jobs that month, 23,000 more than what had initially been reported.

The figure suggests that the government's February jobs report, to be issued Friday, may come in above economists' forecasts. Analysts expect it will show the economy added 152,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dipped to 7.8 percent from 7.9 percent in January.

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