Our nation's labor market posted strong gains in the month of January. The economy added 257,000 private sector jobs last month, exceeding expectations, while the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent -- its lowest level since February 2009. These numbers show that the labor market continues on a positive trajectory.
We've created 3.7 million private sector jobs over the last 23 months, according to revised numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. January's job growth was the strongest in nine months. The unemployment rate among African-Americans fell by 2.2 percent in January down to 13.6 percent -- the largest one-month drop in recorded history.
The national unemployment rate has fallen by 0.8 percent in the last five months. The drop in unemployment has been driven by employment gains, not workers leaving the labor force.
We're seeing accelerated growth in our labor force across almost every industry. The manufacturing industry surged in January, adding 50,000 jobs. Over the past year, we've added 235,000 manufacturing jobs. More products are rolling off the assembly line marked "made in the USA.' We can build on this encouraging trend if Congress acts on the president's proposals to remove tax incentives for companies that ship American jobs overseas and invests in training programs so our workers can fill existing openings in advanced manufacturing.
We're also seeing new growth in construction. This sector has added 52,000 jobs over the last two months, the largest increase in construction jobs since 2007.
January's employment numbers exceeded all forecasts and provide the strongest evidence yet that our economic recovery is on track."