WASHINGTON – Non-farm payroll employment rose 243,000 in January while the unemployment rate fell to 8.3%, the lowest since February 2009, when it was the same level, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The increase in January non-farm payrolls was the result of gains in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing. The level was much higher than the 150,000 rise estimated by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, and the 8.3% unemployment rate was lower than the 8.5% rate they projected.

The 243,000 non-farm payrolls gain for January followed an upwardly revised 203,000 increase for December. The 8.3% unemployment rate was down from an 8.5% rate for the previous month.

Total private payrolls were up 257,000 while government payrolls were down 14,000 in January.

Manufacturing employers added 50,000 jobs, after a revised 32,000 new jobs were created in December.

Average hourly earnings were $19.62 in January, up 0.1% from $19.60 in December.

The workweek for all private workers rose to 33.8 hours from an unrevised 33.7 hours in December.

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