The U.S. economy continued a strong summer, adding 209,000 jobs in July while the unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent, the lowest since March 2001, according to a government report Friday.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected the report to show growth of 183,000; the unemployment rate met expectations. A more encompassing rate that includes discouraged workers and the underemployed was unchanged at 8.6 percent.
The number of employed Americans hit a new high of 153.5 million thanks to a surge of 345,000. The employment-to-population ratio also moved up to 60.2 percent, tied for the highest level since February 2009.
Stock market futures liked the news, rising to indicate a positive open, while government bond yields also moved considerably higher.
"Kind of an all-around strong headline number," said Tony Bedikian, head of global markets at 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 on an annualized basis. 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.