WASHINGTON — American businesses added 204,000 new workers last month, another sign of strength in the U.S. labor market and economy.
Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that hiring was strong across numerous industries, led by professional and business services, health and education and restaurants and hotels.
The ADP survey has shown monthly job growth of 200,000 or more for six straight months.
"Businesses are aggressively adding to payrolls," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, which prepares the ADP report.
The figures come two days before the government releases its monthly employment figures. Economists forecast that Friday's official report will show that employers added a solid 190,000 jobs in April, according to a survey by data provider FactSet.
ADP compiles hiring data from millions of companies that are clients of its payroll services. Its figures frequently diverge from the government's report. A month ago, the government said private employers added 102,000 jobs in March, much lower than ADP's initial March figure of 241,000, which was revised down to 228,000.
The government's measure of unemployment is at a 17-year low 4.1 percent. Zandi predicted it was heading below 4 percent, as the economy is boosted by tax cuts and increased government spending.
A strengthening economy is starting to lift U.S. inflation. The Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates as the economy gains momentum, but it is not expected to raise rates at its latest meeting, which ends Wednesday.