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Companies continued to hire at a brisk pace in October, with private payrolls rising by a better-than-expected 227,000, according to a report Wednesday from ADP and Moody's Analytics.
Economists surveyed by Refinitiv had expected growth of 189,000 after September's 218,000, which was revised lower from an initial count of 230,000.
Gains came primarily from the services sector, which added 189,000 positions. Construction and manufacturing added 17,000 each. At an industry level, trade, transportation and utilities was the biggest contributor with 61,000 new positions.
Leisure and hospitality contributed 40,000, while professional and business services added 36,000 and education and health services grew by 31,000.
In terms of company size, big businesses that employ 500 or more workers led the way with 102,000. Small businesses, which have paced much of the recovery, lagged with just 29,000 new hires, another sign of a tightening job market where qualified workers are getting harder to find.
"The job market bounced back strongly last month despite being hit by back-to-back hurricanes," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, said in a statement. "Testimonial to the robust employment picture is the broad-based gains in jobs across industries. The only blemish is the struggles small businesses are having filling open job positions."
Larger companies have the advantage in this climate because "they are more apt to provide the competitive wages and strong benefits employees desire," added Adu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute.
The ADP/Moody's count is used as a yardstick to gauge the broader employment picture as it comes two days before the Labor Department releases its closely watched nonfarm payrolls report. However, the two counts can differ widely.
In September, the ADP/Moody's total contrasted with the government's tally of 134,000, which included just 121,000 private sector jobs. The ADP/Moody's total for that month did not account for workers displaced by the violent hurricane season in the Carolinas.
"Stepping back from weather effects, today's stronger-than-expected ADP report provides evidence that the pace of job growth has not slowed — and likely remains well above potential," said Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs.
The Labor Department report on Friday is expected to show an increase of 190,000, which would be slightly below the average 201,000 during the past 12 months though right on pace with the previous three months.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.