The United States shed 20,000 jobs in January but the unemployment rate still dropped to 9.7 per cent, according to the Labor Department.
A survey of households found the number of employed Americans rose by 541,000, while the job losses were calculated from a separate survey of employers.
The department also released updated figures on job losses, showing a loss of 8.4 million, up from a previous estimate of 7.2 million, since the recession began in December 2007.
That represents the most jobs lost, as a percentage of total employment, in any recession since the Second World War, stated the department.
But there are signs of hope. The Labor Department also revised its figures for job gains in November 2008, up to 64,000 from the initial estimate of 4,000. January's losses were also the smallest since the recession began (aside from November's job gains).
Also, the manufacturing sector saw 11,000 new jobs, the first gain for the sector since January 2007 and the largest gain since April 2006.
The country's gross domestic product has risen for two straight quarters. In the fourth quarter of 2009 GDP rose by 5.7 per cent, the fastest pace in six years.
Government employment fell by 8,000, despite federal hiring for the 2010 census, and the construction industry saw 75,000 job losses, the most of any sector in January.
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