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Employment Jumps; Rate 8.3%, 243,000 New Jobs Created
CNBC.com | February 03, 2012 | 10:05 AM EST

The pace of job creation surged in January, with the US economy generating 243,000 new positions while the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent, according to government data released Friday.

Both numbers were far better than consensus, which expected a growth of 150,000 jobs and a steady unemployment rate of 8.5 percent.

The stock market rallied on the jobs news, with gains of better than 1 percent, while bond yieldssurged as well to push the benchmark 10-year Treasury to 1.93 percent.

"What’s not to like about the report?" said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak in New York. "Not only did payrolls exceed forecasts...but between the November and December revisions employers added 160,000 more jobs than first thought."

The overall work week remained unchanged at 34.5 hours while wages rose an average of four cents an hour to $23.29.

On the downside, the closely watched labor-force participation number, which can skew the unemployment rate, fell to 63.7 percent, the lowest since May 1983. The number of those working part-time for economic reasons rose 1.2 percent.

The January numbers can be volatile as the Bureau of Labor Statistics makes seasonal adjustments. This year's round produced 1.25 million fewer people in the workforce in December, a number that drew some focus as evidence that the drop in the jobless rate could be misleading.

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