(ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE) -- The U.S. unemployment rate fell in January for a fifth straight month, to 8.3 percent, as the economy added nearly a quarter-million jobs.
The jobless rate -- down from December's 8.5 percent -- is the lowest in almost three years. The rate is now eight-tenths of a percentage point under what it was last August, the U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
BLS' separate survey of employers showed that nonfarm payroll jobs rose by 243,000 last month, with businesse adding 257,000 positions and a slight drop in private-sector employment.
Many economists had expected less payroll growth, according to surveys.
It said that private-sector job growth was widespread in January, with large increases in professional and business services as well as leisure, hospitality and manufacturing.
It was the fourth straight month of job gains nationwide.