U.S. Payroll Numbers Pale Next to Predictions

Private payroll growth south of the border disappointed in February despite otherwise encouraging signs of economic growth, according to a report Wednesday from ADP.

The poll revealed companies in the U.S. added just 117,000 positions for the month, well below the 225,000 forecast from economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

The total also represented a sharp decline from the upward revised 195,000 jobs in January.

The weak ADP reading comes despite solid projections for economic growth in the first quarter. According to the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow tracker, the U.S. is on track for a 10% gain to start 2021.

All of the net job growth came from the services side.

Trade, transportation and utilities led sectors last month with the addition of 48,000 positions. Education and health services increased 35,000, while the battered hospitality industry, which took the worst of the pandemic-related hit, added just 26,000 jobs. The sector is down 3.8 million positions from where it stood a year ago, just before the worst of the COVID-19 crisis hit.

Professional and business services contributed 22,000 to the total.

Manufacturing lost 14,000 jobs for the month while construction rolls decreased by 3,000.

U.S. non-farm payroll figures are due for release this Friday.