UPDATE 1-US private sector adds 215,000 jobs in Dec-ADP
(Adds comment, detail)
NEW YORK, Jan 3 (Reuters) - U.S. private-sector employers added more new jobs than expected last month even as a possible budget crisis loomed, helping the job market end 2012 on a high note, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Thursday.
The ADP National Employment Report showed the private sector added 215,000 jobs last month, comfortably above economists' expectation of a 133,000 gain. The report is jointly developed with Moody's Analytics.
The increase came even as companies worried the economy might fall off the "fiscal cliff" at year end, which would have meant higher taxes and, some predicted, suppressed hiring.
"All the labor market datahas held up very, very well so (there is) no sign of the fiscal cliff impact on the job market," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, told CNBC television.
A last-minute deal to avoid going over the fiscal cliff was struck on New Year's day.
"The underlying economy has momentum and the employment data confirms that," said John Brady, managing director at R.J. O'Brien & Associates in Chicago. "The hope and prayer of the market is that our political leaders don't screw it up."
A revival in new construction jobs was also a hopeful sign, Zandi said, though the gains were likely boosted by rebuilding efforts after Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast in October.
November's private payrolls tally was also revised upward to show an gain of 148,000 from the previously reported 118,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' more comprehensive payrolls report due on Friday is expected to show the economy added 150,000 jobs last month after adding 146,000 in November.
(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)