The U.S. unemployment rate fell 0.2 percent to 8.3 percent and employment rose by 243,000 jobs during the month of January, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

The report adds that “job growth was widespread in the private sector, with large employment gains in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing. Government employment changed little over the month.”

The Bureau reports that unemployment rates (seasonally adjusted) for

  • adult men were 7.7 percent
  • blacks declined in January to 13.6 percent
  • adult women were 7.7 percent
  • teenagers were 23.2 percent
  • whites were 7.4 percent
  • Hispanics changed little and stood at 10.5 percent
  • Asians were 6.7 percent

The employment report adds that the number of long-term unemployed, that is, those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, “was little changed at 5.5 million and accounted for 42.9 percent of the unemployed.”

The employment report also indicates that in January, employment in leisure and hospitality, an industry very important to Florida’s economy, “increased by 44,000, primarily in food services and drinking places,” which added 33,000 jobs, and that “since a recent low in February 2010, food services has added 487,000 jobs.”

The National Employment Law Project writes today that with the January 2012 employment report, “job growth has averaged over 183,400 per month for the last five months and there have now been 23 straight months of employment growth.” It adds that the unemployment rate fell in January to the lowest since February 2009.

The Employment Law Project adds that despite “sustained growth and the decline in the unemployment rate” still “nearly 24 million workers are either unemployed or underemployed, which means the ‘real’ unemployment rate is still over 15%. Nearly 43% of the unemployed have been out of work for six months or longer, and the average duration of unemployment is 40.1 weeks or over nine months.”

“It would be a mistake to let this strong employment report distract the nation from the need to respond more aggressively to the continuing crisis of long-term unemployment,” the Employment Law Project adds.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported in January that the state’s “seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in December 2011 was 9.9 percent.”

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