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The economy beat expectations and added 238,000 jobs in December, according to the just-released ADP National Employment report.

A woman and her child stand outside a beauty salon with a "Help Wanted" sign in the window, in East Los Angeles, California in this September 3, 2010 file photo.Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images

The report is closely watched as it tends to foreshadow the official jobs report, which the Labor Department will release Friday. Economists expect the unemployment rate to hold steady at 7 percent and the report to show 195,000 jobs created.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, "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.”

Moody's helps ADP, a large national payroll processor, compile the report, and it’s derived from ADP's actual payroll data. Many employees see the company's logo on their checks.