WASHINGTON (AP) — A private survey shows U.S. businesses added the most jobs in a year in December, powered by a big gain in construction. The figures are the latest evidence that the economy gained momentum at the end of 2013.
Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that companies added 238,000 jobs in December, up slightly from 229,000 in the previous month. November's figures were revised higher.
The report showed solid gains in higher-paying jobs.
Construction firms hired 48,000 additional workers in December, the most since 2006. And manufacturers added 19,000 positions. Companies in retail, transportation and utilities also gained 47,000 jobs.
The ADP numbers cover only private businesses and often diverge from the government's more comprehensive report. But both reports have shown a solid pickup in hiring since the summer.
"The job market has kicked into a higher gear," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, which helps prepare the report. "We're now 4 ½ years into this economic recovery and there have been a lot of false starts. ... But this time it does feel more fundamental, more real, more broad-based."
Last month, the Labor Department said that private businesses added 203,000 jobs in November. The government will report Friday on December job growth.
Economists forecast that the government report will show employers added 196,000 jobs last month. That would be similar to the healthy average gain of 200,000 a month from August through November. Those increases have helped push the unemployment rate to a five-year low of 7 percent.