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Unemployment figures are up, but . . .

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SCOTT JAGOW: The government just handed us the employment numbers for last month. U.S. companies added 111,000 jobs. The unemployment rate climbed to a four-month high of 4.6 percent. But one thing kinda stands out about these figures, Janet Babin reports from North Carolina Public Radio.


JANET BABIN: According to the Labor Department figures out today, there was overall job growth in January, but the economy lost 16,000 manufacturing jobs.

That sector posted its seventh-straight monthly decline.

Economist Chris Lowe with FTN Financial says there's no question that manufacturing jobs are in trouble.

CHRIS LOWE: What you're seeing there is that the U.S. manufacturing sector is not competitive when the broad economy is only growing at 2 - 2.5 percent.

A report out yesterday from the Institute of Supply Management found that factory activity fell to its slowest pace in nearly three years.

The poor performance underlines economists' fears that the sector could be sliding into recession.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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