Unemployment fell to 8.3 percent in January, bringing its drop over the last year to 0.8 percentage points, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics employment report. The establishment survey showed an overall gain of 243,000 jobs — with the private sector adding 257,000, making up for losses in the public sector. Upward revisions to job growth for the prior two months have resulted in an average growth of 201,000 jobs over the last three months. Ignoring Census hiring, this is the strongest three-month stretch since February to April of last year when job growth averaged 239,000 a month.

African Americans saw an especially sharp decline in unemployment in January, with their overall rate falling by 2.2 percentage points to 13.6 percent, the lowest level since March of 2009. The unemployment rate for African-American men over age 20 fell by 3.0 percentage points to 12.7 percent, the lowest level since November of 2008. The drop for women over age 20 was 1.3 percentage points to 12.6 percent.

For a more in-depth analysis, read the latest Jobs Byte.

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