WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. companies added 291,000 jobs in January, a big increase from December, but much of that strength likely reflected unusually warm weather during the month.
Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that the January job gain, which was larger than had been expected, compared to a revised December figure of 193,000.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said that warmer-than-normal weather for January played a big role in the increase. He said without that impact, the job gain would probably have been around 150,000.
The ADP report is coming out ahead of the Labor Department's release of the January jobs report on Friday. Many analysts expect that report will show a job gain of 150,000 in January, compared to 145,000 jobs in the government's report in December. Analysts believe the unemployment rate will remain at a 50-year low of 3.5%.
The ADP report showed a gain of 47,000 construction jobs and an increase of 96,000 jobs in leisure and hospitality, two areas where the warmer weather probably played a role. Zandi said those two categories showed the impact of weather on the data.
Manufacturing added 10,000 jobs in January while education was up 24,000 and and health care jobs rose by 47,000.
Zandi said a variety of factors from a deadly virus in China to Boeing's shutdown of production of the troubled 737 MAX jetliner will reduce growth in the first part of the year.