Republican Recession Watch: There Goes Employment

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The economy is Bushed.

Nervous employers cut 17,000 jobs in January — the first such reduction in more than four years and a fresh sign that the economy is in danger of stalling.

The Labor Department's report, released Friday, also showed that the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 4.9 percent, from 5 percent, as the civilian labor force shrank slightly.

Job losses were widespread. Manufacturers, construction firms and a variety of professional and business services eliminated jobs in January — reflecting the toll of the housing and credit debacles. The government cut jobs, too. All those cuts swamped job gains in education, health care, retailing and elsewhere.