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US private-sector job gains rise to 8-month high, topping estimates

Private-sector employment in the U.S. posted its largest gain in eight months in December 2019, widely exceeding expectations as service providers and midsize companies led job creation.

Employers added 202,000 jobs in the month, topping the consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday, which was for job additions of 157,000. Job gains in November 2019 were revised up to 124,000 from 67,000.

December's job growth was the highest since April 2019, when the private sector added a revised 255,000 jobs. Employment growth during that month was initially reported at 275,000.

Small enterprises added 69,000 jobs, medium-sized businesses hired 88,000 people, and large employers added 45,000 jobs, according to the report produced by the ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody's Analytics.

By sector, the service-providing industry saw employment gains of 173,000, buoyed by job additions of 78,000 in the trade, transportation and utilities segments and of 61,000 new jobs in the professional and business services segment.

"The service providers posted the largest gain since April, driven mainly by professional and business services," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. "Job creation was strong across companies of all sizes, led predominantly by mid-sized companies."

Meanwhile, the goods-producing sector hired 29,000 people, though the manufacturing sub-segment lost 7,000 jobs.

"Manufacturers, energy producers and small companies have been shedding jobs," noted Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, warning that unemployment may rise if job growth decelerates further.

Minutes of the Federal Reserve's December 2019 meeting released earlier this month indicated that officials were inclined to keep the rates unchanged after easing the policy three times in 2019. While lawmakers agreed that the U.S. economy "was showing resilience in the face of headwinds," they also saw risks to the outlook as "tilted somewhat to the downside."

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