The US labour market improved unexpectedly in May raising hopes that economic damage tied to the pandemic will be less harmful than feared.
The unemployment rate fell to 13.3%, down from 14.7% in April, as businesses started hiring again.
Firms in the hospitality, construction and health care sectors took on staff.
In total, employers added 2.5 million jobs, with the education and retail sectors also recruiting.
It came as most US states started rolling back some of the tough measures put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus.
As businesses start reopening, firms are beginning to rehire their employees.
The job gains surprised economists, many of whom had warned the country could see the unemployment rate rise past 20% to a post-World War II high.
Economist Justin Wolfers, a professor at the University of Michigan, tweeted: “It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the economy bottomed in early/mid May,” he said. “We’re in a massive and deep hole, and it’ll take a while to climb out, but at least the hole isn’t getting any deeper.”
President Donald Trump, who has maintained the economic rebound will be swift, immediately took to Twitter to celebrate the numbers and claim credit.
“Really Big Jobs Report. Great going President Trump (kidding but true)!” he wrote.
The gains go only a small way towards making up for the more than 21 million jobs US employers cut in March and April, as lockdowns forced many businesses to shut their doors. In April, the unemployment rate hit 14.7%.
The Labor Department has warned that the headline figures may underestimate the true jobless rate.