The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July and the unemployment rate was 4.3 percent, according to a government report Friday.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected the report to show growth of 183,000 with the jobless rate ticking down to 4.3 percent, the lowest since March 2001. A more encompassing rate that includes discouraged workers and the underemployed was unchanged at 8.6 percent.
The number of employed Americans also hit a fresh new high at 153.5 million.
“Kind of all-around strong headline number,” said Tony Bedikian, head of global markets for Citizens Bank. “More people are coming into the labor force and finding jobs. It’s difficult to find anything really negative in the report.”
The closely watched wage number was unchanged from previous months, with average hourly earnings up 2.5 percent. The average work week also was unchanged at 34.5 hours.
Bars and restaurants provided the biggest boost for the month with 53,000 more positives, while professional and business services contributed 49,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.