U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops To 8.3% After Hiring Burst

job growth last month January 2012
job growth last month January 2012

By Christopher S. Rugaber

WASHINGTON -- In the most impressive surge for the job market since the middle of the last decade, the United States added 243,000 jobs in January, far more than economists expected. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent, the lowest in three years.

Hiring accelerated across the economy and up and down the pay scale. The high-salary professional services industry added 70,000 jobs, the most in 10 months. Manufacturing added 50,000, the most in a year.