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Experts were expecting an increase but instead the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.5 per cent in February.

It is the first good news for job figures in seven months.

Analysts are now declaring the recession is dead, because economic growth figures are also buoyant.

US Federal Reserve Bank chairman Alan Greenspan said yesterday that he believes there are signs an economic recovery is underway.

Ironically, news of the improvement comes just as the US Congress has passed a controversial economic stimulus bill.

Congress has spent months wrangling over the bill, which President Bush called for post-September 11.

But the bill falls short of what President Bush wanted.

Three previous versions of the bill have already been blocked by the Senate but last night a revised package was passed.

It provides an injection of $80 billion over 10 years, which will go towards helping the unemployed and offering limited tax cuts to businesses.

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