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February 4, 2011 2:00 PM, EST

Unemployment Rate Falls to 9%; Trucking Adds 3,200 Jobs

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 9% in January, the lowest in almost two years, from 9.4% in December, the Labor Department said Friday.

Payrolls rose by 36,000, less than the 146,000 forecast by analysts, Bloomberg reported.

Truck transportation employment grew by 3,200 jobs, though the transportation and warehousing industry as a whole lost 38,000 jobs, Labor figures showed.

The for-hire increase was the 10th straight gain, for a total of 24,800 added trucking jobs, according to Bob Costello, chief economist of American Trucking Associations.

Most sectors within the transportation industry added jobs, though couriers and messengers lost 44,800, largely in seasonal employment.

November’s 9.8% unemployment rate had been the highest since April and the January rate is the lowest since April 2009.

Economists projected unemployment to rise to 9.5%.

Manufacturing employment jumped by 49,000, the most since August 1998, while construction fell by 32,000. Retailers added 27,500 workers.

Government payrolls fell by a cumulative total of 14,000. State and local governments reduced employment by 12,000 and the federal government lost 2,000 jobs.