WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans boosted their borrowing in August by the largest amount in three months with strong gains in the category that covers auto and student loans and in credit card debt.

The Federal Reserve says that total consumer borrowing increased $18.1 billion in August compared to July. In July, consumer borrowing had fallen for the first time in nearly a year.

The rebound in August along with a separate report that showed the nation's unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent in September were viewed as encouraging signs for an economy that has been struggling in recent months.

The August borrowing gains reflected a $4.2 billion increase in borrowing on credit cards and a $13.9 billion increase in auto and student loans.

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