This key jobs report for December just dwarfed expectations

Economists had predicted 400,000 private sector jobs were added last month, but the report came in at a whopping 807,000.

It was the second-strongest jobs total of the year, according to ADP, surpassed only by the 882,000 jobs added in May.

The ADP report isn’t correlated to the government’s official jobs tally, which is due on Friday, but it seen as a bellwether for how the labor market is doing.

The job gains were broad across businesses of different sizes — though large companies, with 500 employees or more, added the most jobs.

All sectors ADP measures added jobs. Leisure and hospitality gained the most at 246,000 positions. Trade, transportation and utilities came second with 138,000 jobs added.

Omicron’s threat

The labor market closed out the year at a high, but can this growth pace be sustained?

One big hurdle in the way of success is the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which is leading infection numbers to soar across the nation.

“Omicron is definitely unwelcome,” said ADP chief economist Nela Richardson. “Just when the supply chain problems were starting to ease…”

Even though the December report was strong, the services sector is definitely vulnerable to the highly infectious new variant, Richardson said.

That said, this isn’t a repeat of last winter: “I don’t think we’ll see the kind of early 2021 numbers,” she told CNN Business on a call for journalists about the report.

“[Omicron] is a hiccup, this is a speed bump to the road to recover.”

The jobs recovery was strong last year, adding 6 million private sector jobs, America was still down 4 million private sector jobs versus its pre-pandemic levels at year-end, according to ADP.

Although America is trying to get back to its pre-pandemic strength, it’s also important to remember that we lost out on nearly two years of additional job gains on top of the 2019 levels. It will take even more time to get back to where we should have been.

This is a developing story. It will be updated

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