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U.S. unemployment rises to 7.9%

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(CNN) – The jobs recovery continued to crawl forward in January, as employers hired 157,000 workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Job growth at that level is weaker than in December, when employers added 196,000 jobs, and in line with last year’s patterns.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in January.

The report comes amid conflicting signs about the overall recovery. There has been some strength, most notably in housing, but the economy contracted recently for the first time in more than three years and the debate over government spending continues.