Unemployment Rate Drops For Fifth Straight Month

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Unemployment numbers continued a downward trend for the fifth straight month, with more jobs added in January than in the eight months prior.

The Labor Department says employers added 243,000 jobs in January, with hiring widespread across many high-paying industries. Unemployment dropped from 8.5 in December to 8.3 in January.

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

More good news out of January's report: the economy added 200,000 more jobs in 2011 than originally thought. Nearly twice as many jobs were created in 2011 than in 2010.

Not all news was good: 12.8 million people remain out of work, though the number is at the lowest since the recession ended. Eleven million more are underemployed, meaning they work part-time but would prefer full-time, or work in a job with low wages. Underemployment rates did drop slightly in January.

The U.S. still has a long ways to go to reach pre-recession numbers, with about 5.6 million fewer jobs than in late 2007, when the recession began.

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