US non-farm payrolls rose by 288,000 in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The consensus estimate had been for a rise of 220,000.
That came about even as the number of persons employed fell by 73,000.
Non-farm payroll figures, considered to be the more timely and relevant of the two measures, for the previous two months were revised higher by a combined 36,000.
The unemployment rate dropped to 6.3% from the previous month's reading of 6.7%. That was far below the print of 6.6% which had been expected.
However, the labour force participation rate sank to 62.8% from March's level of 63.2% - a 35-year low.
Put another way, the number of people employed - as measured by the Household survey - dropped by 73,000, but those who were unemployed decreased by 733,000, more than compensating for the above and dragging the unemployment rate sharply lower.
The drop in the labor force participation rate may stoke worries in some corners that the amount of slack in the economy is indeed decreasing and at some point will add at least some upwards pressures to prices.
Establishment survey data: Some weak details
Looking at the establishment survey data, from which the non-farm payrolls figure is derived, private sector payrolls increased to a level of 273,000, from the 202,000 seen in the previous month.
Goods producing industries created 53,000 new posts while in services they increased by 220,000.
Government added 15,000 staff during the month.
Worth noting, some of he remaining details of the report were weaker than expected. Hence, perhaps, part of the subdued reaction by stockmarkets.
Average hourly earnings were flat (consensus: 0.2% over the month) at $24.31 just the same as average weekly earnings, at 34.5 hours (consensus: 34.5).
The index of aggregate weekly hours gained 0.3% over the month to 108.1.
Economists weigh in
Commenting on the data Paul Ashworth, Chief US economist at Capital Economics, had this to say: "Disappointingly, average hourly earnings were unchanged last month and the annual growth rate slipped back to 1.9%, from 2.1%. Nevertheless, we still anticipate an acceleration later this year as the slack in the labour market rapidly dwindles.
"Overall, much better, but we don't think this faster growth in payrolls and big drop in the unemployment rate will be enough to persuade the Fed to accelerate the pace at which it is tapering its monthly asset purchases."
For his part, Michael Gapen, at Barclays pointed out that; "[...] the sharp decline in the participation rate may lead some to dismiss this report, but we would remind readers that the participation rate is flat over the last six months, in line with our view that a stronger labour market in 2014 and 2015 is likely to flatten out the recent participation rate decline, as opposed to sending the participation rate higher."
As of 14:29 the euro/dollar was off by 0.37% at 1.3818 and sterling down by 0.33% to 1.6837.
US 10-year Treasury yields were rising by four basis points to 2.65%.