The disappointing news on jobs came as President Obama went to Michigan, a state still stuck in recession.
He put on a positive spin.
"Companies across the country are saying they intend to hire even more folks in the months ahead. that's why I think this can be a breakthrough year for America," Mr. Obama said.
Jobs were added in construction, business services and manufacturing, but lost in retail and government.
The unemployment rate was 6.6% in January, as 10 million Americans were counted as unemployed. Overall, the unemployment rate has improved substantially since it peaked at 10% in 2009 and is now at its lowest level in more than five years.
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