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By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — Private employers added a surprisingly strong 281,000 net new jobs in June, the most since late 2012, payroll firm Automatic Data Processing Inc. said Wednesday.

The figure was up sharply from 179,000 in May and is a positive sign heading into Thursday’s official jobs report from the Labor Department.

Analysts had expected the closely watched ADP report to show that private-sector job growth improved in June, but had anticipated an increase of just 213,000.

The June figure was the best since ADP reported 293,000 net new private-sector jobs in November 2012.

“The job market is steadily improving,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which assists ADP in preparing the report.

“Job gains are broad-based across all industries and company sizes,” he said. “Judging from the job market, the economic recovery remains fully intact and is gaining momentum.”

Economists project that the government will report on Thursday that the economy added about 211,000 net new jobs in June, down from 217,000 the previous month. The unemployment rate is forecast to hold at 6.3 percent, its lowest level since September 2008.

AFP Photo/Mark Wilson

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Ralph Reed

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In a Colorado church early this summer, one of that state’s Republican representatives, House member Lauren Boebert, spoke, as she always does, with definitive conviction: “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church. … I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk that’s not in the Constitution.”

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