Survey: US companies add a robust 219,000 jobs in July

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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. businesses added 219,000 jobs in July, a private survey found, a robust total that suggests employers are still able to find the workers they need despite the low unemployment rate.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that hiring was led by health care providers, hotels and restaurants, and manufacturers. July's figure was up from 181,000 in June and is enough to lower the already-low jobless rate of 4 percent over time.

Tax cuts and greater government spending are accelerating the economy's expansion. Growth reached an annual rate of 4.1 percent in the April-June quarter, the fastest in four years. The pickup comes as the economic expansion enters its tenth year, the second-longest in U.S. history.

The report arrives two days before the government releases the official monthly employment figures. Economists forecast that Friday's jobs report will show employers added 190,000 jobs, according to a survey by data provider FactSet.

The unemployment rate is projected to slip to 3.9 percent, near an 18-year low.

ADP compiles hiring data from millions of companies that are clients of its payroll services. Its figures frequently diverge from the government's report.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, which calculates the ADP data, said the trade fights between the United States, China, the European Union and other countries have so far had little impact on overall hiring.

But large multinational firms cut jobs last month, Zandi said, which may have been a result of the tariffs the U.S. and others have imposed.

The Trump administration has slapped duties on steel and aluminum, as well as on $34 billion of goods imported from China, and some types of lumber from Canada.

"If the tariff increases are limited to what we've seen so far, no big deal," Zandi said.

But if the Trump administration proceeds with its threat to place import taxes on another $200 billion of Chinese imports, that would slow growth and lower hiring, he said.

Still, Zandi expects strong job gains to continue through this year and into 2019, potentially driving the unemployment rate below 3.5 percent.

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