According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 236,000 jobs were created last month, bringing the unemployment rate down to 7.7 percent. Analysts had expected 160,000 jobs.
The private sector created 246,000 jobs, while the public sector again contracted, losing 10,000 jobs. The wider U-6 measure of underemployment fell a tick to 14.3 percent.
BLS revised the number of jobs created in December up from 196,000 to 219,000, and the change for January was revised down from 157,000 to 119,000.
40.2 percent of workers have been out of work for six months or more, continuing a persistent problem with long-term unemployment.