U.S. private employers added 297,000 jobs in December compared with a revised gain of 92,000 in November, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Wednesday.
The November figure was originally reported as a gain of 93,000.
The median of estimates from 27 economists surveyed by Reuters for the ADP Employer Services report, jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, was for a rise of 100,000 private-sector jobs in December.
The ADP figures come ahead of the government's much more comprehensive labor market report on Friday, which includes both public and private sector employment.
That report is expected to show a rise in overall nonfarm payrolls of 140,000 in December, based on a Reuters poll of analysts, but a rise in private payrolls of 145,000.
ALAN LEVENSON, CHIEF ECONOMIST, T. ROWE PRICE, BALTIMORE:
The ADP data has recently become a reliable indicator for the Labor Department's employment report. In fact, over the last year the rule has been that it has understated the private sector payrolls numbers. That's not to say it will happen when Friday's report on December employment is released.
But it suggests Friday's numbers could be much stronger than the consensus expects, which is why the bond market reversed course.
TIM GHRISKEY, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER OF SOLARIS ASSET
MANAGEMENT IN BEDFORD HILLS, NEW YORK:
Huge number, what a surprise. This is a number that is watched closely by the market as an indication of the official government employment level. There is some talk that this is simply a data catch up, that prior ADP data was understated.
But it certainly looks to us that this is further indication that the economy continues to slowly but surely improve and while we are not looking for jumps in employment we are looking for steady improvement in employment as we've seen over the past year, just at a very measured pace.
Part of this is also likely retail employment likely improved considerably over the holidays given increased demand. But employment is employment is employment and this is a very good number and the market has reacted very positively to it.
TOM PORCELLI, U.S. ECONOMIST, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS, NEW
You cannot ignore the strength of this report. As a consequence of this report we are taking our payrolls estimate higher for sure. Small business continues to add jobs. With small business now beginning to start to ramp up hiring, it's safe to feel better about the labor backdrop.
ANDREW WILKINSON, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST AT INTERACTIVE
BROKERS GROUP IN GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT:
We've been building toward a big number. That one has been coming has been evident from the initial claims data. That's pointing to a big payroll number ahead, and I think we'll get a big healthy report on Friday. Lately we've seen a build-up in demand, but what has been lacking is the business confidence to translate a stronger economy to payroll growth. Perhaps this is the start of that.
STOCKS: U.S. stock index futures pare losses
BONDS: U.S. Treasury debt prices turn negative
FOREX: U.S. dollar extends gains against euro and yen