WASHINGTON – Companies added more workers than projected in December as U.S. employers grew more optimistic about the prospects for demand, a private report based on payrolls showed today.
The 238,000 increase in employment was the biggest since November 2012 and followed a revised 229,000 gain in November that was stronger than initially estimated, according to the ADP Research Institute in Roseland, N.J. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 200,000 advance.
A pickup in hiring coupled with wage gains are helping to spur faster growth in the consumer purchases that make up almost 70 percent of the economy. A Labor Department report this week may show private payrolls rose by 197,000 last month, according to the Bloomberg survey median.
“The job market ended 2013 on a high note,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Penn., said in a statement. Moody’s produces the figures with ADP. “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.”
Estimates in the Bloomberg survey of 36 economists ranged from gains of 170,000 to 225,000 after a previously reported increase of 215,000 in November.
The December tally brought the 2013 average to 179,600 compared with 163,000 per month in the previous year, according to ADP data.
Construction increased headcount by 48,000 in December, the biggest gain since February 2006. Employment in trade, transportation and utilities increased 47,000, while factories added 19,000 jobs, today’s report showed. Professional and business services employment rose by 53,000 last month.
Payrolls at service providers climbed by 170,000 jobs in December.
Companies employing 500 or more workers added 71,000 jobs. Medium-sized businesses, with 50 to 499 employees, took on 59,000 workers and small companies expanded payrolls by 108,000.