Businesses add 212,000 jobs in February

March 04 23:28 2015

Private employers hired 212,000 workers in February, adding more muscle to the frame of a growing U.S. labor force. Payroll processor ADP’s survey released Wednesday morning showed the seasonally adjusted number of new positions added in February. The economy is adding about 250,000 private sector jobs a month so February’s figures were slightly down in comparison. But the steady increase in positions, across industries, is a positive trend line, says Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics chief economist.635609920678133330-GTY-462853036-70600246

“The ADP gain for the month of February was on the soft side,” Zandi said in a conference call Wednesday. Still, “the labor market is in very good shape and the prospects are that it will continue to do well at least for the foreseeable future. It’s going to take a lot to derail the momentum that currently exists in the labor market.”

The biggest gains were among small businesses, with fewer than 50 employees, which produced 94,000 new jobs in February. Midsized businesses added 63,000 new workers, while the nation’s biggest companies added 56,000 positions. Americans were most likely to find a job in the service providing sector, where there were 181,000 new positions. And the construction and professional services industries were the most robust, adding 31,000 and 34,000 jobs, respectively.

Since the end of 2013, U.S. companies of all sizes have added more than 2.8 million jobs, ADP figures show. The Labor Department’s more closely followed report on February U.S. employment, which tracks private and public-sector jobs, is scheduled to be released Friday morning.

ADP was expected to report February gains of 220,000 jobs, according to economists’ average forecast in a survey by Action Economics. Economists’ average forecasts for Friday’s Labor report are for 240,000 additional payroll jobs and a 5.6% unemployment rate. Both numbers would be down from those the Labor Department previously reported for January — 257,000 job gains and a 5.7% unemployment rate. But the department’s initial figures are subject to revision in the next two months’ reports as Labor gathers more detailed information about employment.