WASHINGTON (CBS4) – The Labor Department’s latest unemployment numbers for January brought good news and bad news to economists looking for signs the Great Recession is coming to an end.

The good news was the unemployment rate declined sharply in January. According to the Labor Department, the unemployment rate dropped to 9.0 percent from 9.4 percent in December.

Economists had expected the unemployment rate to rise to 9.5 percent in January due to the brutal winter weather across much of the country.

The White House touted the nearly 1 percentage point drop in the last two months and said the 1.1 million jobs added during 2010 was the strongest private sector job growth since 2006. But, the White House acknowledged the unemployment rate “remains unacceptably high.”

The bad news was the economy only created 36,000 new jobs last month. That was the fewest jobs created in the last four months. This left economists concerned that a true economic recovery is taking off across the country.

One area that was shedding jobs left and right was government. According to the numbers, local, state, and the federal governments shed 14,000 positions in the month of January. This is due to massive budget deficits that are threatening to send many communities into bankruptcy or into default.

Overall, the job market shed roughly 8 million jobs from 2008-2009. With 2010 only adding roughly 1 million jobs, the economy has a long way to go to bring it back to levels seen just before the banking and housing collapse in 2008 that sparked the Great Recession.

For more on the jobless numbers, click over to CBSNews.com’s coverage here.

  1. So many people are still struggling and the complete fix is still a long way off.

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