Private sector employers added 257,000 jobs to their payrolls last month as the economy continued to strengthen across most sectors, according to payroll giant ADP.
ADP reported Wednesday that small businesses with 49 or fewer employees gained 95,000 jobs in December, up from November’s downwardly revised 72,000. December’s total included 51,000 at businesses with between one and 19 employees and 44,000 at businesses with between 20 and 49 employees.
Companies with between 50 and 499 employees gained 65,000 jobs in December, up approximately 10 percent from November. Employment at large companies—those with 500 or more employees—came in at 97,000, an increase from the upwardly revised 80,000 jobs added in November. Companies with between 500 and 999 employees added 39,000 jobs, while companies with more than 1,000 employees gained 58,000 jobs.
Service-providing employment rose by 234,000 jobs in December, up from an upwardly revised 213,000 in November. The professional and business services sector, which includes accounting and tax preparation along with other services, contributed 66,000 jobs, the largest increase in this sector in 2015. The combined trade, transportation and utilities sector grew by 38,000 in December, a slight decline from an upwardly revised 41,000 in November. The 13,000 new jobs added in financial activities in December were in line with the average for the year. Franchise businesses added 48,600 jobs in December.
Goods-producing employment rose by 23,000 jobs in December, well up from a downwardly revised -2,000 the previous month. The construction industry added 24,000 jobs, which was roughly in line with the 21,000 average monthly jobs gained for the year. Meanwhile, manufacturing stayed in positive territory for the second straight month adding 2,000 jobs.
“We’ve been creating over 200,000 jobs per month on average for almost four years,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, which compiles the monthly national employment with ADP, during a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “That’s strong. This 200,000+ monthly job-gaining pace is double the rate necessary to control the growth in the working age population. That means that we’re absorbing the unemployed and underemployed rapidly. If we continue creating jobs at this pace, which I think is likely, we will be back to full employment by almost anyone’s measure, by the summer of 2016.”
Zandi noted that the job growth is broad based. “We’re seeing job creation across almost every industry, the only exception being the energy industry,” he said. “Manufacturing is a little bit soft, particularly in the trade-sensitive sectors, but outside of that we’re seeing job creation everywhere, across industries and all occupations and pay scales, and across almost every region of the country, with the exception of some of the very energy intensive parts of the country. It’s also across all company size classes. Small businesses are doing very well. Midsize and large companies are also adding to payroll.”
While ADP does not break out the numbers for the 66,000 jobs added in professional and business services, Zandi said the figures showed solid job growth across a range of professional and business services. “The strength of the professional and business services sector is a result of very solid job growth across all of those different businesses that make up the professional and business services sector, so it’s very, very broad based,” he said.
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