ADP: Companies added 158,000 jobs in March
By Paul Davidson, USA TODAY12:29p.m. EDT April 3, 2013
Businesses added 158,000 jobs in March, payroll processor ADP said Wednesday, fewer than expected and possibly raising concern about the government’s closely-watched employment report for March, due Friday.
Economists had forecast that ADP would report private-sector job gains of 215,000. They expect the Labor Department on Friday to report 195,000 net jobs added in March. That figure would include the private sector and federal, state and local governments, although governments have been cutting payrolls.
Professional and business services led job gains with 39,000, trade and transportation added 22,000 and financial firms, 9,000. Construction companies added no net new jobs after several months of solid gains during a housing rebound.
“Construction employment gains paused as the rebuilding surge in the wake of Superstorm Sandy ended,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which works with ADP to compile the report. “Anticipation of health care reform may also be weighing on employment at companies with close to 50 employees. The job market continues to improve, but in fits and starts.”
Small businesses and midsize businesses accounted for most of the job gains for the third straight month. Small businesses added 74,000 jobs; midsize ones, 37,000 and large companies, 47,000.
ADP often reflects the same broad trends as Labor’s report, but the firm has had mixed success forecasting. Last month, ADP estimated businesses added 198,000 jobs in February while Labor reported 246,000 gains.
Total non-farm payrolls rose 236,000 in February, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7% from 7.9%, the government said.
The economy has remained resilient despite a recent rise in payroll taxes for working Americans and across-the-board federal spending cuts that started to take effect March 1.
This week, an index of manufacturing activity fell slightly, but its measure of factory employment ticked up.
Meanwhile, consumer and business spending have held up, and the housing rebound has picked up steam. Many economists are revising their estimates for first-quarter economic growth higher, to near 3%.