Private sector job growth highest in 3 years


By Caroline Valetkevitch

Adding to the view that the U.S. economic recovery was picking up steam, non-farm productivity grew faster than previously estimated in the third quarter.

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U.S. private employers added a stronger-than-forecast 93,000 jobs in November, the biggest rise since November 2007, after an upwardly revised gain of 82,000 the month before, according to data Wednesday by ADP Employer Services, which jointly developed the report with Macroeconomic Advisers LLC.

Economists in a Reuters poll had expected a rise of 69,000 private-sector jobs in November.

"It is just another sign of re-acceleration in the labor market. Some of the details suggest that there is a 60 percent chance that the government's payroll number could beat consensus," said John Canally, Investment Strategist at LPL Financial in Boston.

The U.S. government's monthly employment report on Friday is forecast to show another month of job gains in both the private and public sectors. In a Reuters poll, nonfarm payrolls are seen up 140,000 in November while private payrolls are seen up 153,000.

The labor market has been among the weakest parts of the U.S. economy, and economists see gains in that area as strong evidence that the recovery is progressing.

In comments following the ADP report, Macroeconomic Advisers Chairman Joel Prakken said U.S. job declines may have turned the corner and that Friday's government report could show a gain of 150,000 to 200,000 jobs for the private sector.

Also in November, however, the number of planned layoffs by U.S. employers rose to the highest level since March, according to a report by consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Employers announced 48,711 planned job cuts last month, up 28 percent from 37,986 in October, with the government and non-profit sector leading the rise, the report showed.

U.S. stock index futures were sharply higher before the stock market open, while long-dated U.S. Treasury debt prices were at session lows and the U.S. dollar sharply weaker against major currencies after a week of gains.

Wednesday's government productivity report showed productivity increased at an annual rate of 2.3 percent rather than the 1.9 percent pace reported last month, as employers squeezed more output from workers and kept costs contained.

Productivity contracted 1.8 percent in the second quarter.

(Additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani, Leah Schnurr and Richard Leong)