(Washington) The private sector created 164,000 jobs in December, up significantly compared to the previous month and above all well above market expectations, while wage growth continues to slow, according to the monthly survey ADP/Stanford Lab published Thursday.

This is the fourth consecutive month of increase in the rate of job creation, mainly due to hiring in the hotel and restaurant sector, while that of construction also remained solid.

Conversely, the manufacturing industry is seeing its number of jobs decline, a sign of the difficulties currently encountered by the sector, according to the monthly report.

“The job market is returning to levels very close to what it was before the pandemic,” underlined ADP chief economist Nela Richardson, quoted in the press release.

Analysts had forecast an increase in the number of creations compared to November, which had reached 101,000 additional jobs (compared to 103,000 initially announced), but envisaged a more modest increase, to 114,000 units, according to the consensus published by briefing .com.

Official employment figures are due on Friday and are expected to be up very slightly compared to November, when the unemployment rate had fallen slightly to 3.7%.

In detail, job creation largely concerned services, mainly hotels and restaurants, but also education and health services as well as, to a lesser extent, transport and commerce.

Conversely, the production sectors are suffering more, with a drop in jobs in the mining and natural resources sector as well as the manufacturing industry, with only construction seeing its workforce increase.

Concerning salaries, they increased by 5.4% over one year for employees who kept the same job, compared to 5.6% the previous month, and by 8% for those who changed jobs, again a slowing pace compared to the trend observed so far.

“If wages have never fueled the recent peak of inflation observed, with the slowdown in their increase the risk of a price-wage spiral has been completely removed,” underlined Ms. Richardson.