Companies added 213,000 jobs this month, the data show. Economists polled by Refinitiv expected payrolls to grow by 178,000.
The strong jobs growth comes even as the U.S. government was shut down for 35 days as the Trump administration and congressional leaders could not agree on funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The job market weathered the government shutdown well. Despite the severe disruptions, businesses continued to add aggressively to their payrolls,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, in a statement. “As long as businesses hire strongly the economic expansion will continue on.”
Medium-sized businesses, those that employ between 50 and 499 people, led the charge by adding 84,000 payrolls. Large businesses, which have at least 500 employees, expanded their head count by 66,000. Small businesses added 63,000 jobs.
The services sector contributed the lion share of the jobs this month, with 145,000 jobs being added. Within the services sector, jobs in professional and business services grew by 46,000 while education and health services payrolls expanded by 38,000. The goods-producing sector, which includes construction, mining and manufacturing, added 68,000 jobs last month.
Wednesday’s report comes ahead of the release of the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report, which is scheduled for Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect the government’s report to show an addition of about 168,000 jobs for January.