Unemployment rate falls to 8.3%

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 243,000 in January as the nation's unemployment rate declined to 8.3%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The better-than-expected jobs report produced an unemployment rate that is down 0.2 percentage points from December and down 0.8 percentage points since August. It's also the lowest rate in almost three years. 

Employment in construction increased by 21,000 in January, following a gain of 31,000 in the previous month. Over the past two months, nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 30,000 jobs, according to the bureau.

Employment in retail trade continued to trend up in January. Job gains in department stores (+19,000), health and personal care stores (+7,000), and automobile dealers (+7,000) were partially offset by losses in clothing and clothing accessory stores (-14,000). Since an employment trough in December 2009, retail trade has added 390,000 jobs.

The employment situation summary can be found here