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The economy lost 17,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department reported on Friday, the first monthly decline in four years and the most striking evidence yet that the United States may be slipping into a recession.
Until now, the labor market had been growing at a steady if softening pace. Many economists pointed to expanding payrolls as the final holdout in a sluggish economy weighed down by trouble on Wall Street, the collapse of the housing bubble, and a cascade of credit problems linked...