US companies shed only 345,000 jobs in May

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Washington: US companies shed only 345,000 jobs in May, the smallest drop in eight months and a sign that the US recession may be easing, but the unemployment rate still jumped half a percentage point to 9.4 percent, the Labour Department reported Friday.

The US has now lost six million jobs since a deep recession began in December 2007, but the monthly data was far better than economists had predicted. A survey by Bloomberg News had predicted 520,000 jobs would be cut on the month.

The loss is nearly half the average number of jobs shed over the last six months. The worst month of the year was January, when 741,000 jobs were cut.

Despite the improved figures, the US jobless rate climbed to 9.4 percent from 8.9 percent in April.

The Labour Department said the rate of job cuts had eased in construction, retail and business, but there were still heavy losses in the manufacturing sector.

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