The US economy created a higher-than-expected 243,000 jobs in December, the highest total in nine months, government figures showed Friday.
Analysts had forecast an increase of about 150,000 jobs.
The unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent, which was the lowest rate in nearly three years, and down from a revised rate of 8.5 percent in December, according to the Labor Department figures.
Job growth was widespread, with large gains in business services, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing.
Leisure and hospitality, which includes restaurants and hotels, added 44, 000 jobs.
Retailers added nearly 11,000 jobs, and professional and business services, which includes higher paying jobs in accounting, architecture and engineering, gained 70,000 – the most in 10 months.
Factories added 50,000 workers, much more than expected and a one-year high.
The report was also buoyed by revisions to November and December data, which showed 60,000 more jobs created across the two months than previously reported.
The figures add to a range of data pointing to a gradual US economic recovery.
Last week, it was announced that the US economy expanded at a 2.8 percent annual pace in the October-December quarter, a full percentage point higher than in the previous quarter.
Earlier this week, a survey from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) indicated that the US manufacturing sector expanded at its fastest pace in seven months in January.