Nation's Unemployment Drops To 8.3%

Employers went on a hiring spree in January and drove down the unemployment rate for a fifth straight month to 8.3 percent, its lowest point in nearly three years.

The result pointed to a resurgent job market, and it sent stock futures surging. The Dow Jones industrial average futures, which were flat before the report, jumped 95 points.

The economy created 243,000 net jobs in January, the most in nine months, and the unemployment rate fell two ticks.

Employers have added an average of 201,000 jobs a month in the past three months. That's 50,000 more jobs per month than the economy averaged in each month last year.

The Labor Department's January jobs report was filled with other encouraging data and revisions. Hiring was widespread across many high-paying industries. Pay increased. And the economy added 200,000 more jobs in 2011 than first thought.

The unemployment is nearly a percentage point lower than over the summer, when feared a recession was imminent. The last time the unemployment rate has dropped for five straight months was in late 1994.

Lower unemployment is a positive a sign for President Barack Obama's reelection hopes. Still, he's likely to face voters with the highest unemployment rate of any post-war president.

The unemployment rate fell even as more people began looking for work. But a much larger number said they found work.

More jobs and higher incomes should help consumers boost spending and increase economic growth.

Job gains in November and December were revised upward to show that an additional 60,000 jobs were created in those two months.

The government also issued its annual revisions to jobs data going back five years. They showed that hiring was stronger over the past two years than previously thought. The economy added about 1.82 million jobs last year, nearly twice as many as in 2010.

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.

Last month, manufacturers added 50,000 jobs, the most in a year. Even the beleaguered construction sector added 21,000 jobs, its second month of strong gains. That has likely been aided by unseasonably warm weather this winter.

Leisure and hospitality, which includes restaurants and hotels, added 44,000 jobs. Retailers added nearly 11,000. And professional and business services, which encompasses higher paying jobs in accounting, architecture and engineering, gained 70,000, the most in 10 months.

There are still 12.8 million people out of work, though that is the fewest since the recession ended. An additional 11 million are either working part-time but would prefer full-time work, or have stopped searching for jobs.

When all those groups are combined, nearly 24 million are considered "underemployed. The so-called "underemployment" rate ticked down in January to 15.1 percent, from 15.2 percent.

Several reports signaled this week that the economy is improving gradually. Manufacturers expanded at the fastest pace in seven months in January, a private survey showed.

And fewer people sought unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said. The four-week average of applications fell to its second-lowest level since June 2008. The drop shows that companies are cutting fewer jobs, which usually leads to more hiring.

Americans spent more at big chain retail stores last month compared with a year earlier. And automakers began 2012 with a strong sales gain in January. Healthier auto sales can boost a range of companies, from steel makers to parts suppliers to shippers.

The economy expanded at a 2.8 percent annual pace in the October-December quarter, a full percentage point higher than in the previous quarter.

Even so, economists expect slower growth this year. Much of the fourth quarter's expansion was due to companies ordering more goods to restock their warehouses. Restocking is likely to slow in the first three months of this year. That would drag on growth.

Europe's financial crisis could also slow demand for U.S. goods. And average wages failed to keep up with inflation last year. That leaves consumers with less spending power, which can hamper growth.

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  • by Labbrat on Feb 11, 2012 at 08:25 AM
    That's because you can't be unemployed if you are not looking for employment. Why work? Obama will just give you our money!
  • by Anonymous on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:37 PM
    How about my employer has reduced my 40 hours to 6 hours a week for the past 2 months, I am looking for another job but no luck yet. Because esc is completely racial and predigous, If i quit i cannot get unemployment. 6 hours a week!
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Feb 10, 2012 at 09:43 AM
    Lavon=People who believe anything they are told. people who refuse to change there minds when confronted with facts. a koolaid drinker is the liberal democrat who is liberal because they are told they should be. they have made no attempt to decide why the are liberal. often a koolaid "drinker" simply wants to hate anything a republican does good or bad. koolaid people are the vocal howard dean wing of the democrat party. the converse of rightwing loonies. koolaid drinkers are the ones that went first when jim jones said drink. that earth mama hippy chick is such a sixties burn out wanabe. dude she is just a "koolaid drinker" cut her a break. she listens to air american and npr.
  • by Tim (this is for you Lavon) Location: Vanceboro on Feb 8, 2012 at 09:47 AM
    Do you know what played a major role in decreased unemployment....natural disasters....not i know you idiot Dems think Obama is God...but make several tornado outbreaks....major hurrican..and fires??? You are giving him a bit more credit than he deserves. To say the decrease is inflated is fair. Numerous temporary jobs is what is driving this, they just came at a very good time for NOBAMA. He may get reelected, then everything is fixed and the jobs go away. Unless of course he and Allah can summon up a few earthquakes and another tornado or two. Otherwise, we are stuck with him for 4 more years. I beg of you,,vote against Saddam Hussien Obama no matter who is running against him!!!! Rick Santorum???? heck Id vote for Rick FLAIR against Obama!!
  • by Eyes Wide Open Location: Greenville on Feb 7, 2012 at 05:28 AM
    Wake up!! 8.3% unemployment? What a total lie!! The GOP does not cater to the rich, they cater to everyone who is NOT lazy! The democrats are completely responsible for all of this country's troubles. They have spent us into bankrupty. Obama has increased our national debt by almost $5 Trillion all by himself!! Wake up!! The democrats and the blood sucking lazy are the problem. The GOP is the only answer. Rick Santorum or Ron Paul must win the White House!
  • by To Formerly Pirateman Location: ENC on Feb 4, 2012 at 11:26 AM
    You expressed the GOP sentiment toward the middle class very well. Their contempt for teachers, firemen, sanitation workers, and any government payee other than themselves has been obvious! Just for the record, those "dead weight" teachers in New Jersy worked for no pay in order to continue with the education of the children. Yours and Romney's attitude for working people is the same that is getting Walker recalled and galvanizing workers all over this country! Maybe the Chinese are willing to work for nothing-and their quality shows it, but American workers are proud of their work and have enough self-respect not to take whatever "pittance" the 1% deems we should have! And that pride is the same pride that was unwilling to take whatever George III wanted to give us. You want to talk patriotism? Well, when you can offer a candidate willing to pay his taxes or have a son serve their country in the military, THEN, we'll talk!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 5, 2012 at 08:26 AM in reply to To Formerly Pirateman
      Fine, let's pay all teachers, firemen, sanitation workers all $ 95,000/year. They would all be brought to the top of the middle class in America. Problem is, the "middle class" will be paying so much more in taxes that they won't be middle class anymore. Yeah, I know your reply, tax the RICH. That's hog wash. Businesses and the "rich people" are going to make a certain return on investment... IE HIGHER PRICES for the goods they produce and guess who buys most of the goods produced ? You got it, the middle class. You're whole mindset is WRONG. Yeah, let's pay the teachers what we can, but you also must consider they get AWESOME benefits plus only work 9 months out of the year. So cry your river of tears elsewhere.
    • reply
      by SICK on Feb 7, 2012 at 01:46 PM in reply to To Formerly Pirateman
      I was in the military,and guess what, most of the problem if not all of it is the unions wanting more and more for what.Oh and why should someone make $50,000 per year working in a assembly line when people with master's degree only make $38,000, explain that smart a*#.
  • by Formerly Pirateman on Feb 4, 2012 at 04:50 AM
    And if it wasn't for Obama it would not have happened. (And if you believe that one then I'd like to date your daughter- my intentions are honorable).
  • by Frank Sinatra Location: Heaven on Feb 3, 2012 at 10:44 PM
    When it is time to re-elect a president regardless of his party affiliation you have to ask has he done enough to keep his job? If you can look at the last 3 years not as a republican or a democrat but has he done his job. Personally I say no. All I have seen is a man that has failed at every turn and blamed everyone but his self. It is time for someone else to be given the opportunity to excel.
    • reply
      by lavon on Feb 4, 2012 at 06:52 AM in reply to Frank Sinatra
      I say yes. He has my vote
      • reply
        by Doctor obamanot on Feb 4, 2012 at 02:28 PM in reply to lavon
        You suffer from gonna reelect em(gonorhhia letim).
      • reply
        by SICK on Feb 7, 2012 at 01:48 PM in reply to lavon
        really man. get a life and stop sucking off the goverment like they owe you something.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 4, 2012 at 08:57 AM in reply to Frank Sinatra
      Have you EVER agreed with anything this president has said and done....I didn't think so. Now tell me specifically what the GOP has done to create 1 just 1 job.....I didn't think so.
      • reply
        by Frank Sinatra on Feb 4, 2012 at 08:42 PM in reply to
        One job OK....a new president.
      • reply
        by Eyes Wide Open on Feb 7, 2012 at 05:26 PM in reply to
        The GOP House has pasted 27 bills that would improve job growth only to be pushed aside by Harry Reid in the Senate who refuses to allow a vote on any of the bills. Name 1 job that Obama has created besides government jobs! I have news for you, the government does not create jobs, they pass bills that help the PRIVATE sector create jobs!!! There are 3 different classes of people: Nonproductive, Public Sector Productive, and Private Sector Productive. 2 of these classes feed off the other, guess which 2 are the blood suckers? When the blood suckers out number the Private Sector this country is doomed, but for now we have too many uninformed people who sympathize with the blood suckers.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Feb 7, 2012 at 08:08 PM in reply to Eyes Wide Open
          Bravo ! Very good post. I agree 100% !
  • by Sam Location: Kitty Hawk on Feb 3, 2012 at 05:25 PM
    It would be foolish to vote for Barack Obama to stay in the white house for 4 more years.
    • reply
      by lavon on Feb 3, 2012 at 09:45 PM in reply to Sam
      U of all people should know about voting foolish. After all u voted for bush twice
    • reply
      by Ralph on Feb 4, 2012 at 08:59 AM in reply to Sam
      I bet you also supported Palin, Cain, Bachmann, Trump and that's foolish. Been to the Moon lately?
      • reply
        by SICK on Feb 7, 2012 at 01:49 PM in reply to Ralph
        move to russia
    • reply
      by ECUPirate on Feb 5, 2012 at 08:18 PM in reply to Sam
      Unfortunately our only other option is to vote for a party that caters only to the wealthiest 0.01% and religious fanatics intent on pushing extremism down the throat of moderate, middle class America. If Ron Paul runs as an Independent, he's got my vote. Otherwise I've little choice but to vote for the incumbent.
  • by Sad but True on Feb 3, 2012 at 05:09 PM
    The GOP Record on Shipping American Jobs Overseas, Over the last four years, Republicans have voted eleven times to protect: (1)Tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas (2) Off-shore tax havens for corporations and the wealthiest Americans(3)Tax loopholes for CEOs deferred compensation paid by off-shore companies, foreign tax haven corporations dodging U.S. taxes, and Americans who renounce their citizenship. These tax breaks cost American taxpayers over $60 billion. Under President Bush, Republicans voted 8 times to expand tax breaks for outsourcing and protect offshore tax havens. The Republicans: (1)Enacted legislation to provide $42 billion in tax breaks for offshore operations of U.S. corporations, encouraging the shipping of U.S. jobs overseas. (2) Voted to protect tax shelters for corporations relocating overseas to avoid paying taxes.(3) Voted to protect government contracts for these corporate expatriates.(4) Voted against help for workers whose jobs were outsourced and against even a study on outsourcing of U.S. jobs.

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