WASHINGTON -- The nation's unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to a five-month low of 5.7 percent in August and companies added new jobs for the fourth straight month.

The jobless rate fell by 0.2 percentage point from 5.9 percent in July, the Labor Department reported, marking the lowest level since March.

Companies added 39,000 new jobs last month, which was in line with what economists expected. Hiring in construction, government and the service sector helped fuel the gains.