A job seeker, left, shakes hands with a representative during a career fair in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

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U.S. companies added the most jobs in four months in August while jobless claims stayed low last week, reports showed Thursday, suggesting the labor market remains healthy despite a slowdown in manufacturing and global weakness.

Businesses’ payrolls increased by 195,000 after a downwardly revised 142,000 gain in July, according to the ADP Research Institute. The latest data compared with the median estimate of economists for a 148,000 increase. A separate Labor Department report Thursday showed filings for unemployment benefits were little changed last week, near the lowest level since 1969.

Key Insights

• The ADP report indicates hiring continued apace in August and may bode well for the Labor Department’s employment report on Friday, which is forecast to show steady payroll gains and a jobless rate that’s holding near a half-century low. Economists often look to the ADP data to help refine estimates for the government’s figures.

• Investors, economists and policy makers are watching closely for signs that the U.S.-China trade war and global growth weakness are spreading more broadly through the U.S. economy. A manufacturing gauge this week signaled contraction for the first time in three years.

• Goods-producing jobs rose by 11,000, led by factories, the ADP figures showed. Employment at service providers increased by 184,000, with significant gains in health care in social assistance and leisure and hospitality.

Economist’s View

“Businesses are holding firm on their payrolls despite the slowing economy,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said in a statement. Moody’s produces the figures with ADP. “Hiring has moderated, but layoffs remain low. As long as this continues recession will remain at bay.”

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• Hiring at small businesses jumped by 66,000, a four-month high, while mid-sized companies added 77,000 and big corporations added 52,000.

• A separate report Thursday showed U.S. job-cut announcements jumped 39% in August from a year earlier and are up 36.2% year to date, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

• ADP’s payroll data represent about 411,000 firms employing nearly 24 million workers in the U.S.

(Updates with jobless claims in first and second paragraphs.)

--With assistance from Chris Middleton.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Lanman in Washington at slanman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Scott Lanman at slanman@bloomberg.net, Alister Bull

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