American firms hired more workers than expected in January in a sign that the labor market remains healthy heading into the New Year.
Private work rolls jumped 234,000 last month, reported ADP the payroll processing company. This was well ahead of the 180,000 forecast in the Reuters survey of economists. December's total was revised slightly lower to 242,000 from 250,000.
Employment in goods manufacturers, which includes the building trades, rose 22,000, factories added 12,000 workers, construction 9,000. Service industry payrolls climbed 212,000.
Despite the steady job gains of the past two years, wages have yet to show substantial improvement, though companies report having difficulty finding skilled and experienced workers.
In December annual earnings in the Employment Situation Report, better know as non-farm payrolls, were 2.5 percent higher on the year, at the higher end of the range for the past several years but well below the average annual increase before the financial crisis. Annual earning are forecast to have increased 2.6 percent in January.
The employment report for January will be released this Friday at 8:30 am. Payrolls are forecast to rise 180,000 and the unemployment rate to remain at 4.1%
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