By Chris Isidore, senior writerMarch 4, 2011: 9:08 AM ET

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The jobs outlook brightened in February, as strong business hiring helped trim unemployment to its lowest level in nearly two years.

    The unemployment rate fell to 8.9% last month, from 9.0% in January, the best reading since April of 2009. The unemployment rate has now fallen nearly a full percentage point in the last three months, the most rapid improvement in nearly 28 years.

    Economists surveyed by CNNMoney were expecting the unemployment rate to edge up to 9.2%.

    The economy gained 192,000 jobs in the month, roughly in line with economists’ forecast of 190,000 jobs. Businesses added 222,000 — their best hiring month since last April — while state and local governments cut 30,000 jobs.

    Another good sign: More jobs were added in the previous two months than originally thought. Readings for December and January were revised upward by a combined 58,000 jobs. To top of page

    First Published: March 4, 2011: 8:48 AM ET

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