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The U.S. gained 243,000 jobs in January — around double economists' expectations — as the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3%, the Labor Department said today (Feb. 3). The rate has now declined for five straight months, although that's partly because people are leaving the labor force. November and December job gains were also revised upward by a combined 60,000 jobs. Last week, the Federal Reserve gave a glum assessment of the economy and said it might drive interest rates even lower. Many economists think the Fed won't be deterred by the upbeat January jobs report. Thus, Wall Street gets the best of both worlds: economic improvement but expectations of more monetary easing by the Fed. In today's euphoria, people are not considering the long-term consequences of six years of almost zero short-term rates.

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