US job growth accelerated in November and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 per cent even as more people entered the labour force, pointing to underlying strength in the labour market.
Non-farm payrolls increased by 199,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said in its closely watched employment report on Friday.
Employment was in part boosted by the return of car workers and actors after strikes.
Data for October was unrevised to show 150,000 jobs added.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 180,000 jobs created.
About 25,300 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union ended their work stoppages against Detroit's "Big Three" car makers on October 31, the BLS strike report showed, while 16,000 members of the SAG-AFTRA actors union returned to work.
The employment report suggested that financial market expectations that the Federal Reserve could pivot to cutting rates as soon as the first quarter of 2024 were premature.
The US central bank is expected to keep rates unchanged next Wednesday.
It has raised its policy rate by 525 basis points to the current 5.25 per cent-5.50 per cent range since March 2022.
Employment gains are well above the 100,000 jobs per month needed to keep up with growth in the working age population.
The unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 per cent from nearly a two-year high of 3.9 per cent in October.
It had risen from a 53-year low of 3.4 per cent in April.
The increase, however, was driven by a rise in labour supply rather than companies laying off workers.
Average hourly earnings increased 0.4 per cent after gaining 0.2 per cent in October.
That kept the annual increase in wages at 4.0 per cent in November.
Australian Associated Press