The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs in November, dropping the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008.
Still, employers added 49,000 fewer jobs in October and September than expected.
The report "is something of a mixed bag but, on balance, it's a positive," Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
The job growth suggests that employers aren't delaying hiring because of the fiscal cliff yet. But experts warn that could have a big effect on December's jobs report.
Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats are still locked in a stalemate.
"It's very important that we get this done now, that we don't wait," President Obama admonished lawmakers.
Aides of the president and House Speaker John Boehner met Thursday, but no agreement was reached.