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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Economists surveyed by FactSet are again predicting no improvement in the unemployment rate when government figures for January are released Friday.

The report is expected to show that job growth remained steady last month even though Americans began receiving smaller paychecks that could keep the economy sluggish.

The experts forecast that the economy added 155,000 jobs in January and that the unemployment rate stayed at 7.8 percent for a third straight month.

The economy has averaged about 150,000 additional jobs a month over the past two years, not enough to rapidly reduce still-high unemployment.

Still, even modest hiring would cushion the impact of the higher Social Security taxes that most consumers are paying this year. And it would help the economy resume growing after it shrank at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the October-December quarter.

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