WASHINGTON – Companies boosted payrolls in November by the most in a year, a sign that U.S. employers were optimistic about demand after the end of a government shutdown a month earlier, a private report based on payrolls showed Wednesday.
The 215,000 increase in employment exceeded the most optimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey and followed a revised 184,000 gain in October that was larger than initially estimated, according to the ADP Research Institute in Roseland, N.J. The median forecast of economists called for a 170,000 advance.
Stronger job growth helps provide working Americans with the income gains needed to boost consumer spending at the same time retailers seek to spur holiday sales with discounted merchandise. Federal Reserve policy makers are watching labor-market progress as they debate when to scale back record monetary stimulus.
“Not only is the job market healthy, but it’s improving going into year-end,” said Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York, whose forecast for a 210,000 gain was the highest in the Bloomberg survey. “We’re optimistic on growth next year, continued improvement, further reductions in the jobless rate.”
Estimates in the Bloomberg survey of 40 economists ranged from gains of 125,000 to 210,000 after a previously reported increase of 130,000 in October.
Stock-index futures declined as investors weighed whether a pickup in employment will prompt the Fed to begin trimming its asset purchases. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring this month fell 0.2 percent to 1,787.6 at 8:59 a.m. in New York.
Manufacturers, builders and other goods-producing industries increased headcount by 40,000, the most this year. Employment in construction climbed by 18,000. Factories also added 18,000 jobs, the biggest gain since February 2012. Trade, transportation and utility companies created 45,000 jobs last month.
“Employers across all industries and company sizes looked through the political battle in Washington,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Penn, said in a statement. Moody’s produces the figures with ADP. “If anything, job growth appears to be picking up.”