The US economy added 175,000 new jobs in February, but the unemployment rate rose slightly to 6.7%.
The jobs figures, from the US Labor Department, were better than many had been expecting and marked a rebound from two weak months.
It had been thought the figures would be affected by recent harsh weather, which had hit much of the country.
But the unemployment rate, based on different statistics, went up slightly from January’s 6.6% to 6.7%.
February’s jobs figure, known as non-farm payrolls and based on a survey of employers, compares with the 129,000 new jobs created in January.
Analysts had been expecting a rise of about 150,000 last month.
“It is stronger than expected on several fronts,” said Camilla Sutton, from Scotia Capital.
“That these numbers came even while weather was bad shows the underlying strength of the US economy.”
A large chunk of the gains came from financial and other services, which were responsible for an extra 79,000 jobs.
But the information sector lost 16,000 jobs, most of them in film and sound recording.
Average hourly earnings in the private sector rose by 3.7%, or about nine cents, to $24.31, the figures show. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2%.
The unemployment rate is calculated from a different survey, of households, and rose slightly from its lowest level since October 2008. It leaves the total number of unemployed relatively unchanged at 10.5 million.
The same survey shows the number of long-term unemployed (defined as those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 203,000 in February to 3.8 million.
But their numbers have decreased over the year as a whole.
Separate figures released on Friday showed the US trade deficit widened slightly in January, partly because of rising oil imports.
The deficit grew to $39.1bn (£23.4bn), an increase of 0.3% on December’s figure.