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Second Month of Weak Job Growth In 2014

A second straight month of weak job growth renewed concerns Friday that the vigor displayed by the American economy late last year may be gone, at least for the moment.

The Labor Department's monthly employment report showing a tepid gain of 113,000 jobs in January followed December's puny increase of 75,000 — far below last year's average monthly gain of 194,000.

Yet the report provided some cause for optimism. Solid hiring last month in manufacturing and construction point to underlying strength.

And in a healthy sign, more Americans began looking for jobs, suggesting they were more hopeful about their prospects. A sizable 115,000 formerly unemployed people also said they found jobs. Their hiring reduced the unemployment rate to a seasonally adjusted 6.6 percent, the lowest in more than five years.

Most economists say they think hiring will strengthen during 2014 as the economy improves further.

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