Companies Made More Hires Than Expected in December Amid Fears of Economic Slowdown

Despite fears of an economic slowdown, a new survey revealed that job creation for the last month of 2018 exceeded expectations.

According to ADP’s National Employment Report released today, private sector employment in the United States rose by 271,000 jobs from November to December on a seasonally adjusted basis. It marked the analysis’ best-performing period since February, when it recorded a 280,000 increase, bringing the average monthly gain for the year to 206,000.

“We wrapped up 2018 with another month of significant growth in the labor market,” ADP Research Institute VP Ahu Yildirmaz said in a statement. “Although there were increases in most sectors, the busy holiday season greatly impacted both trade and leisure and hospitality. Small businesses also experienced their strongest month of job growth all year.”

Companies with fewer than 50 employees added 89,000 new positions, while midsize businesses hired an even bigger 129,000, and large enterprises of 500 or more gained 54,000.

The service-providing sector took in 224,000, with professional and business services leading the pack at 66,000 jobs. Education and health services nabbed 61,000; leisure and hospitality saw a growth of 39,000; and trade, transportation and utilities improved by 33,000.

On the other hand, the goods-producing sector picked up 47,000 jobs, driven by construction (+37,000) and manufacturing (+12,000). (The only loss reported was in natural resources and mining, which dropped 2,000 jobs.)

“Businesses continue to add aggressively to their payrolls despite the stock market slump and the trade war,” added Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which assisted in the study. “Favorable December weather also helped lift the job market. At the current pace of job growth, low unemployment will get even lower.”

The survey comes as the market’s volatile movements reflect investors’ anxieties of a slackening in global growth, made worse after the release of a weaker-than-expected report on Wednesday that showed China’s manufacturing sector was contracting. The ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, as well as British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, have also contributed to uncertainty on Wall Street.

Major benchmark indexes opened in the red today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average sliding more than 650 points following Apple’s warning that it would slash its 2019 revenue guidance due to waning growth and trade tensions in China.

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