US Companies Add Jobs at Solid Pace in August

WASHINGTON (AP) -

U.S. businesses added jobs at a healthy pace in August, according to a private survey, the fifth straight month of solid gains.

Payroll processer ADP said Thursday that private employers added 204,000 jobs last month, down from 212,000 in July, which was revised slightly lower. Job gains above 200,000 are usually enough to lower the unemployment rate.

The figures suggest that the government’s jobs report, to be released Friday, will also show a solid increase. But the ADP numbers cover only private businesses and sometimes diverge from the government’s more-comprehensive report.

Economists surveyed by FactSet forecast that the government’s report will show that 220,000 jobs were added in August, while the unemployment rate slipped to 6.1 percent.

“The job gains are across the board in terms of pay scale, which is very encouraging,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, which helps compile the report.

Manufacturers added 23,000 jobs in August, the most since December 2012, the ADP report said. Construction firms added 15,000. Professional and business services, which includes higher-paying sectors such as engineers, architects and accountants, gained 51,000, down from 60,000 in July.