Survey: US businesses add a healthy 241,000 jobs in March

U.S. companies hired 241,000 new workers in March, a solid total that suggests the already-low unemployment rate may be headed lower in the coming months.

Payroll processor ADP says the gains were strong across different industries, with construction, manufacturing and professional services such as accounting showing healthy gains.

The figures come two days before the government releases its monthly employment figures. Economists forecast that Friday's official report will show employers added 185,000 jobs, a smaller but still solid figure, according to a survey by data provider FactSet.

ADP compiles hiring data from millions of companies that are clients of its payroll services. Its figures frequently diverge from the government's report. Last month, the government said 313,000 jobs were added, much higher than ADP's initial figure of 235,000.