By Vicki Needham - 01/05/11 05:14 PM EST
The stock market reacted to the news in mid-morning trading after trending downward slightly earlier in the day.
As the 112th Congress begins, Republicans and Democrats are trying to hone their messages on job creation.
"House Democrats will keep our focus on the creation of jobs, putting the American people to work," Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday a day before becoming minority leader in the House.
"We will measure every policy from both parties, as it comes forth, as to whether it creates jobs, whether it strengthens the middle class, and whether it reduces the deficit instead of heaping mountains of debt onto our children and grandchildren."
Republicans have criticized Democratic job-creation policies as the unemployment rate has stubbornly remained near 10 percent even though the economy has officially been out of recession since June 2009.
If the ADP report is accurate — the firm tends to underestimate job growth — it could be just the news the White House needs heading into the new year, bolstering their argument that their job-creation policies have rooted.
Small-business hiring is certainly a bright spot in the report as they have struggled to obtain credit and expand during the economic downturn.
Employment among large businesses — those with 500 or more workers — increased by 36,000, while employment among medium-size businesses — those with between 50 and 499 workers — increased by 144,000.
One of the strongest signs that the economy is emerging from its downturn is hiring by small businesses, which added 117,000 workers last month, according to the report.
A separate report showed that small-business employment grew last month by 0.3 percent, equating to an annual growth rate of about 3.4 percent, with hours worked moving up and wages flat, according to the Small Business Employment Index.
Overall, that translates to approximately 57,000 new jobs created nationwide. The index is based on figures from the nation's smallest businesses that use Intuit Online Payroll.
The ADP report noted that following the job-creation pause during the summer, September showed an employment gain of 29,000, October gained 79,000 and November added a revised 92,000 jobs.
Employment in the service-providing sector increased by 270,000 in December, the 11th consecutive monthly gain and the largest monthly increase since the report was first produced in 2000.
The goods-producing sector rose by 27,000 jobs, the second consecutive monthly gain and the largest since February 2006. Manufacturing employment rose 23,000, also for the second straight month.
Construction employment was unchanged in December, ending continuous monthly declines since June 2007, the ADP report showed.
In another report, the number of planned layoffs across the country fell last month to the lowest level in 10 years, according to consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.