American companies continued their strong hiring trend in March, adding 263,000 net new jobs, payroll firm Automatic Data Processing said Wednesday.
The figure was the best in nine months after February's job growth was significantly revised down to a still-robust 245,000 net new positions.
The March report was stronger than analysts expected and marked the fifth-straight month of private-sector job gains of more than 200,000.
"Job growth is off to a strong start in 2017," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, which assists ADP in preparing its report.
"The gains are broad-based but most notable in the goods producing side of the economy including construction, manufacturing and mining," he said.
Those sectors had been struggling but have rebounded in recent months.
Construction firms added 49,000 net new jobs in March after an increase of 59,000 the previous month. Manufacturers increased their payrolls by 30,000, after a 33,000 gain in February.
And the natural resources and mining sector added 4,000 jobs, the fourth gain in five months after nearly two years of shedding payroll.
The ADP figures are a harbinger of the broader jobs report to be released by the Labor Department on Friday.
Economists expect that report, which covers private- and public-sector hiring, to show job growth slowed to a still-solid 185,000 in March after a gain of 235,000 the previous month.
The unemployment rate is expected to tick down to 4.6%.
Solid job growth led Federal Reserve officials to increase their benchmark short-term interest rate in March for the second time in three months and signal two more hikes are coming the rest of the year.
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