Private companies kicked off the new year with a hiring spree, according to the latest report from ADP and Moody's Analytics.
Amid an explosive month surrounding President Donald Trump's inauguration and the flurry of activity that followed, firms added 246,000 new workers to their payrolls, the report showed.
That compared to expectations of 165,000 from economists surveyed by Reuters and marked a substantial jump from the downwardly revised 151,000 — initially reported as 153,000 — in December. January also turned in the best single-month performance since June.
"I don't recall ever seeing such a discrepancy between print and estimate in this survey but ADP is saying there was seasonal issues with retail and moderate weather helped too," Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said in a note.
Moreover, the hiring wasn't as dominated by services as it's been in the past.
Goods-producing companies hired 46,000 workers, the highest in two years. Construction jobs led the way with 25,000, while manufacturing added 15,000 and natural resources and mining contributed 6,000. During the campaign, Trump promised to bring back blue-collar jobs, particularly in mining.
The news gave stock market futures a bump, while the dollar was higher across the board and government bond yields also were on the rise.
Traders also got a bit more aggressive in their expectations for the Fed and its interest rate path, increasing the possibility of a March rate hike from 21 percent Tuesday to 25.3 percent Wednesday morning. The Federal Open Market Committee concludes its two-day meeting today with no action expected on rates.
"The U.S. labor market is hitting on all cylinders and we saw small and mid-sized businesses perform exceptionally well," Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute, said in a statement.
Indeed, firms that employ 50-499 workers added 102,000. Small businesses, which often dominate, contributed 62,000, while large companies hired 83,000.
Services were still the main sector, with 201,000. The biggest growth came from professional and business services, with 71,000, while trade, transportation and utilities was next with 63,000. Health care added 49,000.
There were a few pockets of job losses. Information services saw a decline of 6,000, while education subtracted 2,000.
"2017 got off to a strong start in the job market," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said in the statement. "Job growth is solid across most industries and company sizes. Even the energy sector is adding to payrolls again."
The ADP report comes two days ahead of the closely watched nonfarm payrolls report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That report is expected to show 155,000 new jobs, according to FactSet. However, economists sometimes will adjust their estimates off the ADP numbers.