"The numbers were better than expectations, and since the Fed is so determined to make its first rate hike in nine years, this report sets the stage for that to come," said Moody's Analytics capital markets economist Ben Garber.
The economy added 211,000 jobs in November, compared to the 190,000 economists were looking for. Investors are pricing in a 79% chance of a December interest rate liftoff after Friday's rosy report, compared to 75% on Thursday.
"I'd put the chances even higher, especially given Chair Janet Yellen's [remarks this week] -- the Fed is determined to get the ball rolling on higher rates and not have to make a very abrupt upward move somewhere down the line if they don't get started," said Garber.
Yellen referenced the consequences of starting a normalization process too late in a speech Wednesday at the Economic Club in Washington, D.C.
"Such an abrupt tightening would risk disrupting financial markets and perhaps even inadvertently push the economy into recession," she said. '"Moreover, holding the federal funds rate at its current level for too long could also encourage excessive risk-taking and thus undermine financial stability."
Perhaps most indicative of the strength of the labor market was the substantial upward revisions to the prior two months' reports, netting the economy an additional 35,000 jobs. September's numbers were revised to 145,000 from 137,000 and October's numbers were pushed to 298,000 from 271,000.
"That very strong number in October erases the weakness we saw in the previous months, and we're supported by a very fast rate of consumer spending," Garber added.
Meanwhile, average hourly wages rose 0.2% during November, in line with expectations.
"That ties into thoughts that inflation might start to pick up next year," Garber said. For months, economists pointed to weak inflation as a reason why the Fed needed to delay its rate hike, though central bankers attribute the softness to falling commodity prices and other transitory factors.