Posted: Feb 3, 2012 9:47 AM by AP
WASHINGTON (AP) - The unemployment rate is now at its lowest level in three years, 8.3 percent.
The latest decline -- the fifth one in five months -- comes after employers added 243,000 jobs in January, far more than economists expected. It's the most impressive surge for the job market since early last year.
There was increased hiring across the economy, and up and down the pay scale. The high-salary professional services industry added 70,000 jobs, the most in 10 months. Manufacturing saw an increase of 50,000 jobs, the most in a year. Even the struggling construction industry added 21,000 jobs, its second month of strong gains.
The January jobs report also reveals that the economy added 200,000 more jobs in 2011 than first thought.
But even with the gains, the job market faces a long way back to full health. The nation has about 5.6 million fewer jobs than it did when the recession began in late 2007.