Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 243,000 in January, bringing the unemployment rate down to 8.3 percent from 8.5 percent the month before. The improvement continues a trend which has seen the unemployment rate fall 0.8 percent since August. January’s gains were better-than-expected and the rate is now at its lowest level in three years. An improving job market is vital to housing’s recovery, as it will boost Americans’ confidence in their personal financial situation and make them more likely to considering buying a home. The number of unemployed persons declined to 12.8 million in January. More here.