The better-than-expected number can be attributed to good weather last month and strong holiday hiring, despite a tumultuous month for the markets, according to Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi.
“Businesses continue to add aggressively to their payrolls despite the stock market slump and the trade war,” he said in a statement. “Favorable December weather also helped lift the job market. At the current pace of job growth, low unemployment will get even lower.”
The service-providing sector added the most jobs, with the creation of 224,000 positions. It was followed by 66,000 in the professional and business sector and 61,000 in the education and health sector.
“We wrapped up 2018 with another month of significant growth in the labor market,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. “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.”
In November, the U.S. payroll increase remained unchanged at a number of 179,000 nonfarm jobs.
On Friday, the Labor Department will release its highly anticipated December jobs report, which will offer an in-depth look at the labor market, including job additions, the unemployment rate, the labor participation rate and wage growth. Analysts expect the U.S. economy will likely add 177,000 jobs, according to economists surveyed by Refinitiv.