The US unemployment rate fell to 8.3% in January, its lowest level in nearly three years, thanks to the creation of 243,000 net jobs.
It is the fifth straight month that the jobless rate has declined since August, when it stood at 9.1 percent. Private-sector employers actually added 257,000 jobs in January but the overall number was dragged down by the 14,000 lost government-sector jobs.
Most encouraging in the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was broad nature of the job gains. The manufacturing sector added 50,000 posts and the category of professional and business services – many of the better paying white-collar jobs – posted the largest gain with 70,000 new jobs. Even the hard-hit construction sector got in on the action, adding another 21,000 jobs.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, if the hiring numbers stay strong in coming months, it would confirm that Europe’s debt woes are having less of an impact on the U.S. economy than economists thought and may force a rethink of sluggish U.S. growth projected for the first half of 2012.
The Obama adminstration cited the report as “further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal” and called for support for its stimulus policies.