Hiring surged in November as employers added 321,000 jobs, crowning 2014 as the strongest year for job growth since 1999.
The unemployment rate remained steady at 5.8%, according the government report released Friday. That’s down from 7% this time last year.
Hiring blew out the consensus forecast from economists surveyed by CNNMoney, who expected a gain of 228,000 jobs.
“The number is almost off the charts, given what we’ve seen over the past 10 years,” said Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research at accounting firm CohnReznick, who does not feel it’s an anomaly. “Companies are making up for hiring that was deferred earlier in the cycle.”
The U.S. economy has been gaining an average of 224,000 jobs a month over the past year. Any month with job gains over 200,000 is considered strong.
Americans found employment in a wide array of industries. Professional and business services added 86,000 positions, with particularly strong hiring in accounting and book keeping.