Some of the unexpectedly large jump in hiring appeared to have been pulled forward from December, which was revised down from 312,000 jobs to 222,000. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls increasing by only 165,000 jobs in January.
The numbers exclude farm work, which is seasonal and often volatile.
January marks the 100th straight month of job growth in the USA, a record more than twice as long as the previous one of 48 months set in June 1990. Manufacturing payrolls increased by only 13,000 in January, reflecting the more downbeat sentiment in an array of industrial sectors that are vulnerable to slower global growth.
Employment gains were led by the leisure and hospitality sector, which has added 410,000 jobs over the past year. That lowered the annual increase in wages to 3.2 percent from 3.3 percent in December, giving the employment report a Goldilocks feel.
The strong job market, though, is encouraging more people who weren't working to begin looking. Mortgage rates have fallen back after almost touching 5 percent previous year, but the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes still declined in December. The furloughed employees, though, were not counted as unemployed even if they did receive unemployment benefits during the shutdown.
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The unemployment rate rose to 4.0% in January, but the BLS pointed out that rise from 3.9% was due to the government shutdown.
While the month-long government shutdown didn't greatly affect jobs numbers, there was a slight impact. Government shutdown or not, this looked like a big report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for January's employment situation.
With key data from the Commerce Department, including the fourth-quarter gross domestic product report, still delayed because of the government shutdown, the employment report is the strongest evidence yet that the economy remains on solid ground.
But the shutdown was also a driver of the rise in the unemployment rate, since the separate survey of households used to determine the joblessness counted furloughed workers as well as contractors as unemployed.
The number of jobs in retail increased by 21,000 at a time when the sector in the United Kingdom is faltering.
"I am right now planning our first family vacation in three years", she said. Stocks on Wall Street rose, while U.S. Treasury prices fell.
The average workweek was unchanged at 34.5 hours in January.