NEW YORK (
) -- The job market ended 2010 on a sour note, with the economy adding fewer jobs than expected.
In December, the economy added 103,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department, less than the 160,000 positions economists predicted.
Nonetheless, the unemployment rate dropped sharply to 9.4%, its lowest level since May 2009. Economists were looking for the rate to hover around 9.7% to 9.8%.
>>Layoffs Mount in 2010: What Does it Mean for 2011?
On the private-sector front, payrolls increased by 113,000, which also fell short of estimates of a payroll addition of 180,000.
>>Hiring Heats Up: Companies Hiring in 2011
But the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped significantly during the week ended Jan. 15. The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims decreased by 37,000 to 404,000, after rising to 445,000 in the previous week. Economists were expecting initial claims to fall to 425,000.
The four-week moving average in initial claims, which smooths the volatility in week-to-week reports, was 411,750, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week's revised average of 415,750.
While experts agree that layoffs will be less severe in 2011, companies will continue to dole out pink slips.
will track these job cuts over the year. Click on to see what companies have announced layofss in 2011....