Job creation crushed estimates in July as the economy added 255,000 positions, according to the Labor Department.
The headline unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent, though a more encompassing measure that includes those not actively looking for work and those working part-time for economic reasons moved up a notch to 9.7 percent. Though still mired near generational lows, the labor force participation rate ticked up one-tenth to 62.8 percent as those counted as not in the labor force decreased 184,000 to 94.3 million.
Hourly wages also moved higher, increasing by 8 cents or an annualized pace of 2.6 percent, while the average work week edged up to 34.5 hours.
Economists had been looking for an increase of 180,000 and a decline of the unemployment rate to 4.8 percent.
"This was another strong report that checked most, if not all of the significant boxes," said Curt Long, chief economist at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. "The labor market should remain strong as long as consumers maintain their robust spending pace."
Professional and business services led the way with 70,000 new positions, while health care rose 43,000 and Wall Street jobs increased by 18,000. Leisure and hospitality continued to be a big contributor to job growth, adding 45,000. Government added 38,000 to the total.
Job losses came in mining and logging (-7,000), while construction added 14,000 and manufacturing grew by 9,000.