The U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 7.8 percent in September, reaching its lowest level since President Barack Obama took office and providing a boost to his re-election bid, Reuters reported.
The Labor Department said on Friday that employers added 114,000 workers to their payrolls last month, a moderate number, but it said a combined 86,000 more jobs were created in the prior two months than it had previously thought. Other aspects of the report also were strong.
In particular, a separate survey of households found a big surge in hiring. That pushed the jobless rate down by 0.3 percentage point to its lowest level since January 2009, the month Obama took office. Economists had expected it to rise to 8.2 percent.
The drop in the unemployment rate came even as Americans returned to the labor force to resume the hunt for work. The workforce had shrunk in the prior two months.
The households survey, which can be very volatile month-to-month, showed employment increased 873,000, but it also showed a rise of 582,000 in the number of Americans who were working part time even though they wanted full-time work.
Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York, said that took a bit of the shine off the report.
U.S. interest rate futures slipped as traders bet an improving jobs market could lead the Federal Reserve to back off its monetary stimulus earlier than had been expected.