Unemployment Rate Edges Down To 8.3 Percent

Feb 3, 2012
Originally published on February 3, 2012 9:41 am

The nation's unemployment rate dipped to 8.3 percent in January from 8.5 percent the month before as private employers added 257,000 jobs to their payrolls, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported. Overall, after a small drop at government agencies, employment grew by 243,000.

We'll add more from the report momentarily.

Update at 9:40 a.m. ET. White House, Republican Reactions:

President Obama's top economic adviser, Alan Krueger, says in a statement released by the White House that "today's employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression."

From the other side of the political aisle, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says in a tweet posted by his office that there's "welcome news on the jobs front, but our economy still isn't creating jobs as it should be or as was promised."

Update at 9 a.m. ET. Where The Jobs Were:

According to BLS, there were 176,000 more jobs on service industry payrolls last month. Within that sector, the largest gain — nearly 30,000 — was in "health care and social assistance." The 81,000-increase in the "goods-producing" sector was led by a gain of 50,000 jobs at manufacturers.

Update at 8:55 a.m. ET. Some Analyses:

-- The Wall Street Journal says the report is "a sign that the economy's momentum carried into the new year."

-- Bloomberg News writes that "the jump in hiring shows companies are gaining confidence the expansion will weather Europe's slump and may boost President Barack Obama's re-election bid."

-- The gain in jobs "was well ahead of estimates calling for job gains to slow to somewhere around 140,000," Forbes says.

Update at 8:48 a.m. ET. Other Factors:

While the jobs gain is obviously a major reason why the unemployment rate went down, some less positive factors were also involved. The number of "discouraged workers" — those who have given up looking for work and thus aren't counted as being part of the labor force — went up to 1.1 million from 950,000 in December. Also, slightly fewer people either reentered the workforce or entered it for the first time. Those are among the reasons why the "labor force participation rate" went down to 63.7 percent from 64 percent in December.

Update at 8:42 a.m. ET. Upward Revisions:

"The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised from +100,000 to +157,000, and the change for December was revised from +200,000 to +203,000," BLS says.

Update at 8:40 a.m. ET. More From The Report:

-- At 8.3 percent, the jobless rate is the lowest it's been since February 2009.

-- The unemployment rate has now fallen for five straight months and is down from 9.1 percent a year earlier.

-- While private employers added 257,000 jobs to their payrolls, the number of jobs at government agencies continued to decline. State, local and federal agencies shed 14,000 positions. So the net gain in payroll employment at private and public workplaces was 243,000.

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