U.S. private businesses added the most jobs in more than two years last month, a private survey found, a third straight month of robust gains.
Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that businesses added 263,000 jobs in March, the most since December 2014. That is up from 245,000 in February, which was revised lower.
The figure is much higher than economists’ forecasts for the government’s jobs report, to be released Friday. Analysts predict that report will show 178,000 jobs were added, according to data provider FactSet.
The healthy gain follows solid increases in January and February and suggests that rising business confidence is translating into stronger hiring. Small business optimism soared after the November presidential election and is near a record high. Widespread improvement in the global economy has also bolstered larger firms’ outlook.
The data also indicates that hiring remains strong even though growth appeared to slow in the January-March