The U.S. economy added 234,000 private, non-farm jobs in January, according to the monthly employment report released by payroll-management firm ADP and its partner Moody's Analytics today. The seasonally adjusted result is 3.3 percent lower than December's downwardly revised addition of 242,000 jobs, and marks a 12-percent decrease from last January, when 268,000 jobs were created.

“The job market juggernaut marches on," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics in a press release. "Given the strong January job gain, 2018 is on track to be the eighth consecutive year in which the economy creates over 2 million jobs. If it falls short, it is likely because businesses can’t find workers to fill all the open job positions.”

In a conference call this morning, Zandi's initial comment about the labor market in the first month of 2018 was simply, "boom." With January's report, there is much less room for debate about whether the U.S. is close to reaching full employment, and Zandi contends there will be no question once monthly job gains reach 300,000.

"We're closing in on a nine-year economic expansion," Zandi said. "During this portion of the cycle, it's impressive to still be adding jobs in the economy with this kind of momentum."

Zandi estimates that the underlying pace of job growth averages somewhere between 175,000 to 200,0000 a month—more than double the amount necessary to accommodate new workers entering the labor force. With an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, Zandi contends that focus should shift to how tight the labor market is becoming, which has become evident "pretty much everywhere in the country."

Small businesses—those with between one and 49 employees—gained 58,000 jobs in January. Within that figure, firms that employ fewer than 20 people gained 24,000 jobs, and firms that have 20 to 49 employees added 33,000 jobs. Mid-sized businesses—those with 50 to 499 employees—account for the largest share of employment gains by company size for the third consecutive month, with 91,000 positions added in January. Large businesses consisting of 500 employees or more added 85,000 jobs, accounting for 63.4 percent of January's total job gains. Within that figure, businesses employing 500 to 999 people gained 20,000 jobs, and companies with 1,000 or more employees added 66,000 jobs.

"We saw robust hiring from midsize and large companies [in January], while job growth in smaller firms slowed slightly,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute in a press release.

By sector, the service-providing sector—which has anchored the ADP's job report for 10 consecutive months—contributed 90.5 percent (212,000) of January's total job gains. The service-providing sector includes jobs in trade/transportation/utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; education and health; leisure and hospitality; and other services. Six of the seven subsectors experienced growth in January, with only the information subsector reporting a decrease of 3,000 jobs. This is the fifth consecutive month that employment in the information subsector has decreased.

The professional and business services subsector—which includes architecture and engineering firms—has been on an upward trajectory since March. Employment in the subsector continued to grow last month, with the addition of 46,000 jobs, accounting for 21.6 percent of all service-providing sector jobs added in January.

“We’ve kicked off the year with another month of unyielding job gains,” Yildirmaz said. “Service providers were firing on all cylinders, posting their strongest gain in more than a year."

The goods-producing sector, which includes jobs in natural resources and mining, construction, and manufacturing, added 22,000 jobs in January. Employment in the sector has continued to improve since June, when the sector reported net-zero job growth due to significant losses in construction employment. Employment in the construction subsector increased by 9,000 roles in January, accounting for 40.1 percent of all goods-producing sector jobs added last month. Employment in the natural resources/mining subsector was modest, with the addition of 1,000 employees during January, while the manufacturing subsector added 12,000 new positions.

ADP's national employment report is often used as a precursor for the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report, which will release its January edition on Friday.

For more information, read the full employment report from ADP.