Survey: US firms added a strong 271,000 jobs in December

In this Jan. 30, 2018, file photo, an employee of Aldi, right, takes an application from a job applicant at a JobNewsUSA job fair in Miami Lakes, Fla. On Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, payroll processor ADP reports how many jobs private employers added in December. (Lynne Sladky | The Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — U.S. businesses added a robust 271,000 jobs in December.

Payroll processor ADP said Thursday that last month’s job gains marked a sharp upturn from November’s gain of 157,000. The gains, if backed up by government numbers due Friday, could be strong enough to reduce the unemployment rate.

ADP reported a solid 37,000 increase in construction jobs. But the services sector was particularly strong with gains of 66,000 in the professional and business sector, 61,000 in education and health care and 39,000 in leisure and hospitality.

Economists forecast that the Labor Department will report Friday that employers added 180,000 jobs, with the unemployment rate holding at a five-decade low of 3.7 percent.

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