WASHINGTON: Hiring by private US companies far surpassed expectations in January as the goods-producing sector sharply increased employment, according to a survey released on Wednesday (Jan 30).
After blockbuster gains in December - albeit slower than originally reported - the strong gains in January confirm the US jobs market remains robust.
Private firms added 213,000 jobs in the month, according to the payrolls firm ADP, far stronger than the 170,000 economists were expecting.
"The labour market has continued its pattern of strong growth with little sign of a slowdown in sight," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute.
The goods-producing sector added 68,000 jobs, split about evenly between manufacturing and construction. It was the biggest gain since February of last year and the largest increase for manufacturing in more than four years.
Meanwhile, the dominant services sector hired at a slower pace in the month, adding 145,000 positions, the least since April of last year, and with moderation across many industries.
The increase in December was revised down to 263,000 from the 271,000 initially reported but was still the strongest gain since March 2017.
The survey came ahead of the government's more closely-watched monthly report for January due out on Friday. However, the two are frequently out of step.
Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said the ADP result likely overstated the official figures.
"Labour demand remains extremely strong, despite the pressure on the manufacturing sector from China's slowdown and the trade war," he said in a research note, adding that "manufacturing accounts for only 8.4 per cent of US payrolls."
The consensus among economists is for the jobs report on Friday to show a gain of 160,000 private jobs and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 3.9 per cent.