US jobs growth in January is strongest since June, report finds

US companies ramped up hiring in January, adding the most new workers since June, according to a private survey released days before the first new jobs report since Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Payroll provider ADP said on Wednesday that businesses added 246,000 jobs last month, up from 151,000 in December. The hiring was widespread, with the construction, manufacturing, healthcare and shipping industries all adding jobs at a solid pace.

The figures suggest that job gains have accelerated after a sluggish patch in the second half of last year. With the unemployment rate already low, at 4.7%, employers may be forced to offer higher pay to attract workers, which could create broader income growth.

The ADP data covers only private businesses and often diverges from official figures. Economists forecast that the government’s jobs report, due on Friday, will show a gain of 175,000, according to the data provider FactSet.

That figure may rise in the aftermath of the ADP report. Ted Wieseman, an economist at Morgan Stanley, boosted his forecast for the government’s jobs report to 220,000 from 205,000. Wieseman also noted that fewer people have sought unemployment benefits this month, a proxy for layoffs.

“Every business survey released since the election … has been much stronger, including rising hiring plans,” Wieseman said. “Fewer people being fired and businesses potentially starting to increase new hires points to better net job growth.”

Manufacturers added 15,000 jobs, the most in more than two years, ADP’s report said. Other measures of manufacturing output have indicated that factories have largely rebounded from headwinds such as the strong dollar and slower overseas growth that had caused steady job losses for nearly two years.

Construction companies added 25,000 jobs, the most in four months, a figure that may have been lifted by warmer-than-usual weather.

Professional and technical services, which include highly paid positions such as engineers and architects, added a more modest 8,000 jobs. Retailers, shipping firms and utility companies gained 63,000.

The economy is expanding, though at a modest pace. It grew 1.9% in the final three months of last year, and growth was just 1.6% for the full year, the slowest calendar-year performance in five years.

The economy has not grown at a healthy pace of 3% or more since 2005. Trump has pledged to lift growth to 4% and accelerate job creation, through tax cuts, deregulation and greater spending on infrastructure.

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