Survey: December posts strongest job gains of 2013

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The year ended on a high note for U.S. employment, with December ticking off 238,000 new private-sector jobs, topping the previous month for the best showing of 2013, according to the latest data from the ADP National Employment Report.

The survey from the payroll processing firm and economists at Moody's Analytics is "encouraging news that hopefully bodes well for 2014," Carlos Rodriguez, president and CEO of ADP says in the report released Wednesday.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's says: "The job market ended 2013 on a high note. Job growth meaningfully accelerated and is now over 200,000 per month. Job gains are broad-based across industries, most notably in construction and manufacturing. It appears that businesses are growing more confident and increasing their hiring."

On the non-farm payroll, small businesses added 108,000 jobs, with the gains roughly evenly distributed between the smallest companies with 1-19 employees and those with 20-49 workers. Medium-sized businesses added 59,000 jobs and large ones gained 71,000. Companies employee 500-999 employees actually shed 3,000 jobs, but the very largest (1,000+ employees) made up the difference.

Professional/business services led the sector gains, adding 53,000 positions, followed by construction, which was hardest-hit during the recession — it added 48,000.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is set to release the latest employment figures on Friday. In November, employers added 203,000 jobs and in a separate BLS survey, the unemployment rate for the month dropped to 7 percent, its lowest mark in five years.

Meanwhile, a three-month extension of federal unemployment insurance passed a key procedural hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday, garnering the necessary 60 votes to move forward for further consideration. If the measure makes it through both chambers, it would retart checks to some 1.3 million of the long-term unemployed.

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