- Reuters -
Employers unexpectedly cut 20,000 in January, but the unemployment rate surprisingly fell to a five-month low of 9.7 percent, suggesting some labor market improvement starting to take root.
Instant view: How jobless rate is closer to 22%KEY POINTS: * The Labor Department said the economy shed 150,000 jobs in December, compared to 85,000 previously reported, but November was revised to a gain of 64,000, up from 4,000. Annual benchmark revisions to payrolls data showed the economy has purged 8.4 million jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007. * Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls gaining 5,000 and the unemployment rate to edge up to 10.1 percent. Median estimates from the top 20 forecasters expected payrolls to be unchanged last month. * A sharp increase in the number of people giving up looking for work helped to depress the jobless rate. The number of 'discouraged job seekers' rose to 1.1 million in January from 734,000 a year ago.