employers added 238,000 jobs - the most jobs in more than a year - in December, with gains across a variety of
business sizes and sectors, according to data released Wednesday by payroll
Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the ADP National
Employment Report would show a gain of 200,000 jobs, with estimates ranging
from a low of 170,000 to a high of 240,000. Trends
also show improvement: Private employers added an average of 224,000 jobs per
month in the fourth quarter, slightly up from an average of 211,000 during the
“It appears that businesses are growing more confident
and increasing their hiring,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s
Analytics, which prepares the report using ADP’s data.
The improving data on private-sector jobs has been
echoed by a variety of other recent labor-market reports. Recent gauges of
services and manufacturing firms show hiring is picking up, and businesses are
increasing investment in durable goods, reflecting their confidence in the
economy. Indeed, even workers are perking up, with a recent report showing that
quitting is on the rise.
Still, there’s room for improvement. Despite steadily
adding jobs for more than three years, the U.S. economy has almost 1.3 million
fewer nonfarm positions, which include private and government spots, than when
the recession began at the end of 2007.
The ADP report comes two days ahead of the government's nonfarm payroll
report, a measure of the labor market that is more comprehensive and includes
both public and private sector employment. Analysts are looking for 196,000
jobs to have been added in December, along with a rise in private payrolls of
195,000. Both numbers would represent slight declines from November.