U.S. employers stepped up hiring in February despite a blast of harsh winter weather, renewing hopes that the economy could accelerate this year. February’s gain of 175,000 jobs, up from January’s 129,000, coincided with a rise in the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent. The rate rose because more people began seeking jobs but some didn’t find them. That’s still an encouraging sign. More job hunters suggest that people grew more optimistic about their prospects.
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