Strong Signs Of Life For Job Market - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

GOOD NEWS: Strong Signs Of Life For Job Market

KHQ.COM - Private sector payrolls soared in December while downsizing sank, two separate reports showed Wednesday in a strong indication of a brightening U.S. jobs picture.

Payrolls among private employers rose by 297,000, payroll processor ADP announced.

The gain was much larger than expected. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com were forecasting a rise of 100,000 jobs.

That's a positive sign for the economy, with the government's highly anticipated monthly employment report due Friday.

"The ADP report was robust and implies a solid gain coming Friday," said Robert Dye, a senior economist at PNC Financial Services. "But it's not just this one report that implies that -- the whole suite of labor market indicators are starting to turn north now."

Economists expect the government report to show employers boosted payrolls by 135,000 last month, following a 39,000 increase in November. While last month's gain was weaker than expected, Dye said he wouldn't be surprised to see the level upwardly revised.

ADP reported that hiring by private employers was led by the services sector in December, with employers adding 270,000 jobs in December. That's the sector's highest jump on record and the 11th straight gain, the payroll processor said.

Meanwhile, jobs in the goods-producing sector climbed by 27,000, the largest increase since February 2006.

Small and medium-sized businesses dominated the advance. Small businesses -- those with fewer than 50 employees -- added 117,000 workers last month, according to ADP, while medium-sized companies with between 50 and 499 workers -- added 144,000.

"Small businesses in particular are feeling more comfortable about hiring, and that's where we're going to start seeing the ongoing gains," said Dye.

Job cuts on the decline: In another sign that the weak job market might have bottomed out, 2010 was the lowest year for job cuts in 13 years, according to a separate report issued Wednesday.

Employers announced plans to cut nearly 530,000 jobs in 2010, a 59% plunge from 2009, when job cuts reached a seven-year high, said Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement consulting firm.

It was the lowest number of announced cuts since 1997, when 434,000 job cuts were announced. Challenger also reported that job cuts plunged 34% in December to 32,000 from nearly 49,000 the month before.

That was the lowest monthly job cut total since 2000. Last year's holiday-season job cuts were less severe that the year before.

Job cuts in December 2010 were 29% lower than the year-earlier level of about 45,000, according to the report

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