Job growth remained tame in September, with the economy creating just 114,000 net new positions though the unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent.
The report presented a slew of contradictory data points, with the total employment level soaring despite the low net number.
The falling jobless rate had been a function as much of the continued shrinking in the labor force as it was an increase in new positions.
But the government said the total number of jobs employed surged by 873,000, the highest one-month jump in 29 years. The total of unemployed people tumbled by 456,000.
The labor force participation rate, which reflects those working as well as looking for work, edged higher to 63.6 percent but remained around 30-year lows. The total labor force grew by 418,000, possibly accounting for the relatively modest net level of job growth.
Economists were expecting 113,000 more jobs and the rate to rise to 8.2 percent. Last month saw 142,000 new jobs as the rate dropped from 8.3 percent in July.