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US unemployment rate drops to 8 percent

The new year got off to an impressive economic start as the nation's unemployment rate declined in January to 8 percent (7.9 percent, if those in the Armed Forces are counted in the labor force). This continued a five-month trend that brought the jobless rate to the lowest point since October 1981, reports Monitor contributor Ed Townsend.

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The number of unemployed dropped to 9 million, a decline of 169,000 from December and 2.9 million below the recession high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported lower unemployment rates for adult men, teen agers, whites, blacks, black teen agers and Hispanics. The rate for women was unchanged.

Total employment continued to rise, to 103.2 million, but at a slower growth rate than in the previous two months.

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