Survey: US companies add 215K jobs, most in a year

WASHINGTON - A private survey shows U.S. businesses last month added the most jobs in a year, powered by big gains in manufacturing and construction.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that companies and small businesses added 215,000 jobs in November. And ADP said private employers added 184,000 jobs in October, much stronger than its initial estimate of 130,000.

The ADP numbers cover only private businesses and often diverge from the government's more comprehensive report. Last month, the Labor Department said private businesses added 212,000 jobs in October. The Labor Department will report on November job growth Friday.

Still, the figure suggests that hiring remained healthy in November after picking up in the prior three months. Manufacturing and construction firms each added 18,000 jobs. That was the biggest gain for manufacturers since early this year.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said the figures show that employers shook off the partial government shutdown in October and kept hiring, despite a drop in consumer confidence. Moody's helps compile the ADP data.

"That's very encouraging as we make our way into next year," Zandi said.

Other economists also said the hiring boost was a good sign, but noted that the ADP figures are not always a reliable guide to the government's figure.

"Take this with a grain of salt, but if the direction is right, it is good news," said Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Many analysts noted that if Friday's government report is as encouraging as the ADP figures, the Federal Reserve might be more inclined to reduce its monthly bond purchases when members meet later this month on Dec. 18 and 19.

The Fed has been buying $85 billion in bonds each month to try to lower long-term interest rates and encourage more borrowing and spending.

Employers of all sizes added jobs, the report found. And services firms added 176,000 jobs, the most in a year.

The government says public and private employers have added an average of 202,000 jobs a month from August through October. That was up from an average of 146,000 from May through June.

At the same time, growth picked up. The economy expanded at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter. But analysts expect growth to slow in the current quarter to about a 2 percent rate.

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