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Hiring slows as US employers add just 151,000 jobs last month; firms shed education, transportation and temp workers

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WASHINGTON — U.S. employers added 151,000 jobs in January, a sharp deceleration from recent months as companies shed education, transportation and temporary workers.

The Labor Department says the jobs gains were enough for the unemployment rate to fall to 4.9 percent from 5 percent. The slowdown in hiring reflects an increasingly muddled picture for the U.S. economy, as global financial pressures and a volatile stock market appear to have curtailed growth. January's jobs report appears to have further clouded the economic outlook.

In a sign of robust consumer demand, retailers hired 57,700. Restaurants and bars added 48,800 workers.

Manufacturers hired a solid 29,000 workers last month, even though other indicators show factory activity weakening. But education services, the temp sector and transportation and warehousing let go of a combined 84,000 workers.

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