March 2, 2016 9:00 AM, EST
Companies Added 214,000 Workers in February, ADP Says
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News

Companies added more workers than projected in February, indicating the U.S. job market remains strong, according to a private report based on payrolls.

The 214,000 increase in employment followed a revised 193,000 rise in the prior month, figures from the ADP Research Institute in Roseland, New Jersey, showed March 2. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an advance of 190,000. The average gain in private payrolls over the last three months was 231,000, the most in a year.

Steady hiring that fosters faster wage growth should provide further impetus for consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy. Labor Department data on March 4 may show private payrolls climbed by almost 190,000 workers in February, compared with an average 220,000 monthly advance in 2015.

“Despite the turmoil in the global financial markets, the American job machine remains in high gear,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said in a statement. Moody’s produces the figures with ADP. “Energy and manufacturing remain blemishes on the job market, but other sectors continue to add strongly to payrolls. Full employment is fast approaching.”

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from gains of 160,000 to 237,000. The prior month’s figure was previously reported as an advance of 205,000.

Goods-producing industries, which include manufacturers and builders, increased headcount by 5,000, the ADP report showed. Hiring in construction climbed by 27,000, while factories shed 9,000 jobs.

Payrolls at service providers climbed by 208,000.

Companies employing 500 or more workers added 76,000 jobs. Medium-size businesses, or those with 50 to 499 employees, took on 62,000 workers and small companies increased payrolls by 76,000.

The ADP report is based on data from businesses with almost 24 million workers on their combined payrolls.

Federal Reserve policymakers have said the labor market is making sustained progress. That’s one reason they felt encouraged to raise the benchmark interest rate in December for the first time in almost a decade, although they’ve said further policy adjustments will be gradual.

The February jobs report, to be issued by the Labor Department in two days, may show overall hiring, which includes government agencies, remained resilient. The projected addition of 195,000 employees would follow a 151,000 increase in January, according to the median forecast in the Bloomberg survey. The unemployment rate probably held at 4.9 percent, the lowest since 2008.