U.S. businesses added a solid 205,000 jobs last month, lifted by robust gains in services and construction and extending a streak of steady hiring, according to a private survey.
Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that financial services, retailers and professional services firms also hired at a steady pace. The figures suggest that companies focused on the domestic economy remain healthy, despite gyrations in the financial markets and slowing global growth.
Manufacturers have suffered from the strong dollar, which makes U.S. goods more expensive overseas, and did not add any jobs last month.
The data comes just two days before the government's official jobs report for January. Economists forecast that report will show employers added 200,000 jobs and the unemployment rate remained 5 percent.
The ADP survey covers only private businesses and frequently diverges from the official figures.
Still, the data suggests that layoffs and weak hiring are confined to the oil and gas drilling and manufacturing sectors.
"Outside of that, job growth is very strong," Zandi said.
Solid hiring numbers contrast with weak data on the overall economy, which expanded at just a 0.7 percent annual rate in the final three months of last year. Economists expect growth figures will improve in the current quarter.
But the gap between the jobs and growth data also reflects very weak growth in productivity, or the efficiency of the workforce.