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US Jobless Rate Falls to 9.4 Percent

The U.S. unemployment rate fell unexpectedly in July, in one of the strongest signals yet that the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression may be ending.

A report from the Labor Department Friday shows the unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent last month, compared to 9.5 percent in June. It is the first time the jobless rate has fallen since April 2008.

Employers cut 247,000 jobs in July. The number is much less than analysts had expected, but still an indication of a weak job market.

In total, about 14.5 million people are unemployed in the United States.

President Barack Obama has said the $787 billion economic stimulus plan he signed within months of taking office has stopped the recession from getting worse.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.