Most of the job losses came in retail and manufacturing, 700 each sector, and also in construction and professional services, 500 in each sector.
According to the labor department, the hospitality industry in Aiken-Augusta dropped 400 jobs in January. Education and local government had slight job loses.
No sector added jobs in January.
There were 205,400 people employed in January, down from 208,500 in December, and down from 207,300 in January 2011.
Despite thousands in job losses, there was a slight increase in the number of people who sought unemployment for the first time.
The labor department reported 2,808 initial claims for unemployment in January, up from 2,541 in December, but lower than the 3,092 claims in January 2011.