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Private sector jobs up 237K in Aug vs. 185K expected: ADP

  • Private payrolls grew by 237,000 in August, ahead of the 185,000 that economists expected.
  • Services again dominated the numbers with a gain of 204,000, and the month saw notable gains in construction and manufacturing.
  • The release comes two days ahead of the government's closely watched nonfarm payrolls report.

Private payrolls in August jumped at their fastest pace in five months thanks in part to strong gains in construction and manufacturing jobs, according to the latest release from ADP and Moody's Analytics.

Companies added 237,000 positions in the last full month of summer, well ahead of the 185,000 that economists surveyed by Reuters expected.

Job creation in the ADP/Moody's survey was last this strong in March, which saw growth of 255,000. The August number also easily outpaced the 201,000 added in July, a number that was revised upward from the initially reported 178,000.

While service-related industries again dominated the numbers with a gain of 204,000, the month saw notable increases in construction [18,000] and manufacturing [16,000].

Trade, transportation and utilities contributed the biggest sector gains, at 51,000, while leisure and hospitality contributed 51,000. Education and health services was next with 45,000 and professional and businesses services grew by 39,000.

"The job market continues to power forward. Job creation is strong across nearly all industries, company sizes," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said in a statement. "Mounting labor shortages are set to get much worse."

The numbers come as the national job picture appears to be at or near what would normally be considered full employment. The unemployment rate has tumbled to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent as the economy has added 440,000 jobs over the past two months, according to the government's official nonfarm payrolls account.

The Labor Department will release its August tally on Friday, with a gain of 180,000 expected. Economists sometimes adjust their projections based on the ADP numbers, though the gap between the two readings can be substantial. August's numbers are often volatile, and Zandi cautioned that the initial reading may be low "due to measurement problems."

"The economy is powering ahead and we're getting 200K," Zandi told CNBC. "We will see this slow, it's just a matter of when."

As for the ADP/Moody's count, there also were several other interesting developments.

Businesses with more than 500 employees led the way with 115,000 new positions. Companies with fewer than 50 employees added 48,000, while medium-sized firms grew by 74,000. Most sectors saw at least modest gains, though mining lost 1,000 and information services declined by 3,000. Wall Street saw its ranks grow by 11,000.

Ahu Yildirmaz, co-head of the ADP Research Institute, noted that the growth in trade jobs was the best of the year and said it "could be an industry to watch as consumer spending and wage growth improves."