The US economy created jobs at the fastest pace in nine months in January and the unemployment rate dropped to a near three-year low of 8.3%, indicating last quarter's growth carried into early 2012.
Non-farm payrolls jumped 243.000 the Labour Department said on Friday, the most since April and beating economists' expectations for a gain of only 150.000.
Economists had expected the jobless rate to hold steady at 8.5%. The rate has dropped 0.8 percentage point since August. The good piece of news boosted stock markets worldwide.
The decline last month reflected large gains in employment in the separate household survey from which the unemployment rate is derived. Fewer people left the labour force.
Job gains last month were widespread, with even the transportation and warehousing sector increasing payrolls.
The tenor of the report was further strengthened by revisions to November and December payrolls data, which showed 60.000 more jobs created than previously reported.
In addition, average hourly earnings rose four cents, which should help to support spending. The report suggested that expectations of a slowdown in US economic growth in the first quarter were not yet impacting on companies' hiring decisions.