U.S. companies added 263,000 workers in March, the most since December 2014, suggesting further tightening of the labor market, payrolls processor ADP said on Wednesday.
Strong job gains in the coming months will likely add upward pressure on wages, supporting the Federal Reserve's view for at least two more interest rate increases by the end of 2017.
"The labor market is tight and it will get tighter," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics which jointly developed the ADP National Employment Report.
ADP's March figure easily beat the median forecast of 187,000 increase among economists surveyed by Reuters.
Private payroll gains in the month earlier were revised down to 245,000 from the originally reported 298,000.
The ADP figures come ahead of the U.S. Labor Department's more comprehensive non-farm payrolls report on Friday, which includes both public and private-sector employment.
Economists polled by Reuters are looking for U.S. private payroll employment to have grown by 175,000 jobs in March, down from 227,000 the month before. Total non-farm employment is expected to have risen by 180,000.
One factor that may lead to faster wage gains is the uncertainty on immigration policy. Stricter immigration as proposed by the Trump administration would reduce labor supply, forcing employers to compete for workers.
"The labor shortage might be exacerbated by immigration issues," Zandi said.
If immigration were cut in half, that could choke off domestic labor growth which is currently running at 3-4 percent a year, according to Zandi. A
DP private Month Reuters Prior month Prior Economists Low High payroll Poll original month Polled Estimate Estimate revised 263,000 March 187,000 298,000 245,000 32 110,000 225,000