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Unemployment drop not all it seems to be

A drop in the national unemployment rate to 8.5 percent in January from December's 8.8 percent came as a happy surprise to the White House. But administration economists conceded there was no real improvement in the labor market, says Monitor labor correspondent Ed Townsend.

More than 9,298,000 people remained out of work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS Director Janet L. Norwood told Congress that severe weather might have kept many workers out of the job market temporarily, and that the drop might also be explained by a rise in the number of ''discouraged workers'' who have quit looking for jobs because they think there are non to be found.

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