WASHINGTON — The U.S. job market showed resilience in a trio of reports Thursday, suggesting it may able to withstand a federal budget battle that threatens more economic uncertainty in coming months.
The most encouraging sign came from payroll provider ADP. Its monthly employment survey showed businesses added 215,000 jobs last month, the most in 10 months and much higher than November's total of 148,000.
Also Thursday, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said that the number of announced job cuts fell 43 percent in December from November, and overall planned layoffs in 2012 fell to the lowest level since 1997.
The decline in layoffs coincided with a drop last month in the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits. The four-week average was little changed at 360,000 last week. That's only slightly above the previous week's 359,750, which was the lowest since March 2008.
Most economists expect the Labor Department report today will show employers added about 150,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate stayed at 7.7 percent.
• Strong U.S. sales in December capped a remarkable year for the auto industry, with sales of new cars and trucks are expected to total 14.5 million, 13 percent better than 2011 and the best performance in five years.
Toyota's sales jumped 27 percent in 2012, while Honda's sales rose 24 percent. Among U.S. automakers, Chrysler's sales jumped 21 percent for the year, while GM's rose only 3.7 percent for the year and Ford's edged up 5 percent.