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U.S. job market ends 2011 in better shape, but remains tough

(Xinhua)

16:36, January 07, 2012

Workers are seen at a construction site outside Washington D.C., capital of the United States, Jan. 6, 2012. The U.S. unemployment rate edged down to 8.5 percent in December, reported the Labor Department on Friday. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. unemployment rate edged down to the lowest level since February 2009, and President Barack Obama said the U.S. economic recovery was moving in the right direction despite remaining challenges.

The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 8.5 percent in December, reported the Labor Department on Friday, fresh evidence that the world's largest economy is on a stronger footing.

Nonfarm employers added 200,000 jobs in December, with private employers adding 212,000 jobs and governments at all levels cutting 12,000 jobs, showed Labor Department figures.

"Today's employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression," Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement on Friday.

Against the backdrop of slashing government outlays, U.S. governments cut 280,000 jobs in 2011. The total number of unemployed Americans stood at 13.1 million in December, said the Labor Department.

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