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h/t; Bryce Covert at Think Progress Economy

The economy created 146,000 jobs in November, nearly doubling expectations, according to a Friday report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The top-line employment figures exceeded analyst expectations, which factored in a significant drag caused by Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall on the east coast on October 29. But the unemployment rate actually dropped two points to 7.7 percent, and the Department of Labor explicitly cautioned that its “analysis suggests that Hurricane Sandy did not substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November.”

The promising headline numbers, however, were partially offset by weak internals in the survey, which included downward revisions to the previous two payroll reports. BLS now reports that the economy created 132,000 jobs in September, down from its initial estimate of 148,000; and 138,000 jobs in October, down from its initial estimate of 171,000.

BLS’ household survey — a separate survey the government uses to gauge the strength of the labor market — reports a slight drop in both employment and the size of the labor force.

The payroll report says retail trade employment grew by 53,000 jobs, professional and business services climbed 43,000, and health care employment increased by 20,000.

Because of the size of the labor market, the initial reports are marked by a degree of uncertainty nearly equal to the reported increase in employment.

US businesses cranked up hiring in January in a burst of job growth that pulled the US unemployment rate down to 8.3 percent, nearly a three-year low, official data showed Friday.

The blockbuster jobs report blew past expectations, providing a shot of good news for President Barack Obama’s reelection bid in November.

The economy added 243,000 net jobs last month, the Labor Department reported, much better than the average analyst forecast.

Businesses put 257,000 jobs on their payrolls, while government layoffs, which had limited net jobs generation over the past two years, declined.

The jobs gains were broad-based, in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing sectors, while the information, finance and clothing retailer sectors shed jobs.

The surge cut the jobless rate from 8.5 percent in December, and it was the fifth straight month the rate has declined; it stood at 9.1 percent in August. January’s rate was the lowest since February 2009.

The White House said the robust numbers show the United States is climbing back from the economic meltdown that took place four years ago.

“Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,” said Alan Krueger, President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser.

Krueger cautioned that the monthly labor market numbers are volatile and subject to substantial revisions.

Job creation in January was the strongest since April 2011, and was well up from December’s 203,000 figure.

Local and federal authorities shed 14,000 jobs, the lowest level in four months.

The average workweek in the private sector in January was unchanged from December but wages rose 0.2 percent.

“The January figures were helped by exceptionally mild winter weather, but that does not remove the shine from a very encouraging report,” said Nigel Gault at IHS Global Insight.

Analysts cautioned that January job numbers are notorious for future revisions.

However, there have been a number of positive indicators that the economy picked up steam in January, including increases in auto sales and in closely watched surveys of manufacturing and services.

The ISM services sector index released Friday showed solid growth in new orders and jobs.

Moody’s Analytics analyst Sophia Koropeckyj noted a number of challenges to the recovery, including weak fiscal conditions, an expected increase in home foreclosures, the European public debt crisis, and slowing global growth.

“However, the very strong start to the year may also indicate that the US economy is more resistant to these threats than we believe,” she said.

But Matt McDonald at Hamilton Place Strategies said the decline in the labor force participation rate, to 63.7 percent from 64 percent in December, was a worrying sign that people are still dropping out of the workforce.

H/T: Raw Story, via Agence France-Presse