The drop in the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent puts the rate exactly where it was in February of 2009, the month after President Barack Obama took office. And today's news is reverberating through the presidential campaign.
Mitt Romney says the economy "can do better," and that Obama's polices "have prevented a true economic recovery."
But Obama says the report shows that "the economy is growing stronger" and "the recovery is speeding up." He says it's no time to let a cut in the Social Security payroll tax expire -- which is what will happen if Congress doesn't take action by the end of the month. Obama says of the recovery, "We've got to do everything in our power to keep it going."
The news that companies added 243,000 jobs in January prompted a buying spree on Wall Street, where the Dow finished the day at its highest closing level since May of 2008. The Nasdaq is at its highest level in more than 11 years.
Strategist Dan Greenhaus of the brokerage BTIG told clients that the increasing number of job gains goes against what "virtually every economist on the planet had expected."
The unemployment rate has now fallen for five months in a row. It's the first time that has happened since 1994.
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