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News Wrap: Job creation, unemployment both drop in February

In our news wrap Friday, the Labor Department reported a net gain of 20,000 jobs in February, the smallest in nearly 18 months. Still, the unemployment rate fell, while average hourly pay rose more than 3 percent compared to last year. Also, President Trump and former lawyer Michael Cohen traded accusations over Twitter, with each saying the other was lying about discussions of a pardon for Cohen.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The U.S. economy may have hit a speed bump last month, due partly to winter weather and the federal government shutdown. The Labor Department reports a net gain of just 20,000 jobs in February. That is the smallest in nearly 18 months.

    The unemployment rate still dropped to 3.8 percent, down two-tenths from January. And average hourly pay rose 3.4 percent from a year earlier. That's the most in a decade.

    Debate swirled today over the prison sentence handed down for Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman. Last night, a federal judge in Virginia gave him just under four years for tax and bank fraud. That is far less than sentencing guidelines recommend.

    President Trump today voiced sympathy for Manafort, while also claiming vindication in the Russia probe.

  • Donald Trump:

    I feel very badly for Paul Manafort. I think it has been a very, very tough time for him. But if you notice, both his lawyer, a highly respected man, and a very highly respected judge, the judge, said there was no collusion with Russia.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The judge actually said that Manafort wasn't sentenced for collusion, since the crimes in this case occurred years earlier. He faces sentencing, Manafort does, in a separate case next week.

    We will explore disparities in sentencing after the news summary.

    Separately, the president and Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney, traded accusations over Twitter today. Mr. Trump claimed that Cohen asked him directly for a pardon, and then lied about it. Cohen tweeted back that the president is the one who is lying.

    That war of words played out as President Trump traveled to Beauregard in Eastern Alabama today to survey the damage created by a deadly tornado. He and the first lady met with survivors, and then handed out relief supplies. They also signed Bibles for admirers, and visited a row of 23 crosses, one for each person killed in Sunday's storm.

    The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a wide-ranging bill on elections, campaign finance and corruption. Democrats say it would force so-called super PACs to disclose their donors and set up public financing for congressional campaigns. Republicans running the Senate called it a federal takeover of elections and vowed to kill it.

    Much of Venezuela was blacked out overnight and today by its worst electrical outage in decades, before the power slowly came back. Darkened hospitals turned away patients, businesses and schools closed, and people filled the streets in Caracas as the subways shut down.

  • Man:

    I'm sitting here waiting to see if I go to work or if I shouldn't go to work. I don't know where my mom could be, so it is a bit worrying, personally.

  • Woman:

    The lights went out yesterday, and today we woke up without any light. We don't know anything. We are not working because there is no power. That's the reality in the country.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The outage added to political turmoil, with the opposition blaming the government, and the government blaming the United States.

    Millions of women took to the streets around the globe to mark this International Women's Day. There were solidarity marches from Spain to the Philippines. Large crowds carried signs and demanded equal rights, pay equity and an end to sexual abuse. The demonstration in Istanbul, Turkey, was so massive that riot police were called in to disperse the women who were trying to march.

    Back in this country, U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has announced that she is resigning to become president of the University of Texas at El Paso.

    And in a surprise, former FOX News executive Bill Shine is leaving after eight months as the White House communications director. He will serve as a senior adviser to the Trump reelection campaign.

    A grand jury in Chicago has indicted actor Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts. He is accused of lying to police when he reported that he had suffered a racist homophobic attack. Smollett was initially charged last month with a single count and was released on $100,000 bond.

    An unmanned SpaceX capsule is back from a test flight to the International Space Station. The capsule splashed down this morning in the Atlantic Ocean some 200 miles off the Florida coast. That sets up a June flight with two astronauts on board. NASA is using SpaceX and Boeing to end its reliance on Russian rockets for manned flights.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 23 points today to close at 25450. The Nasdaq fell 13, and the S&P 500 slipped five.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": Paul Manafort's sentencing raises questions about the lengths of prison terms; the evolution of U.S. strategy towards North Korea; Mark Shields and Michael Gerson break down the latest from Washington; author Clemency Burton-Hill on listening to classical music; and much more.

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