The New Year is starting on a positive note with HR services firm ADP reporting this morning that December saw more new jobs created than any month since November 2012. All industry sectors contributed to the 238,000 non-farm, private sector jobs added last month.
ADP and its partner Moody Analytics also adjusted upward the job gains for November and October by a combined 35,000. Construction was a powerful driver of the gain, adding 48,000 jobs last month, the most since February 2006. Manufacturing added 19,000 jobs, the second-biggest gain for the sector in more than a year. Even finance and financial activities posted a gain.
“The job market ended 2013 on a high note,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s. “Job gains are broad-based across industries, most notably in construction and manufacturing. It appears that businesses are growing more confident and increasing their hiring.”
The consensus estimate of economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters was for the ADP report to show a gain of about 200,000 jobs. The surveys were more cautious about Friday’s government jobs report. Estimates by both business services found economists expect the U.S. Department of Labor to report a gain of about 196,000 jobs.
Zandi, however, said that based on the ADP report, he expects an even-stronger report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, estimating December’s government jobs gain to hit 230,000. “It feels like the jobs market has kicked into a higher gear.”
Manufacturing has seen five months of sustained job growth, after 15 months of up and down job changes. Since August the sector has added 59,000 jobs — no record, but a positive sign that the industry’s expansion is continuing. Last week, the Institute for Supply Management said its factory index stood at 57, slightly down from November, but still at one of the highest levels of the last two years.
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Construction is being fueled by tbe near boom in house sales. Bloomberg reported that new home purchases in November exceeded expectations and, though off from October’s high, was still among the strongest of the last five years.
The ADP report said the biggest employers accounted for about a third of the job growth, adding 74,000 workers to their payrolls. The smallest businesses, those with fewer than 50 workers, had the strongest spurt since the beginning of 2012, adding 108,000 jobs.
The Labor Department report will be released in Washington Friday morning. It includes government and private job counts, and the national unemployment rate. The job count numbers routinely differ from the ADP report because they use different methods of collecting the data used to make tje estimates. ADP derives its numbers from the tens of millions of payrolls it handles. The government report from the BLS is based on surveys sent to several hundred thousand businesses during the month.