Companies added fewer workers to U.S. payrolls in February after a burst of hiring in the prior month that was stronger than previously reported, signaling that the labor market continues to underpin what may become the longest economic expansion on record this year.
Private payrolls increased by 183,000 after an upwardly revised 300,000 gain in January that was the most in more than three years, according to data released March 6 by the ADP Research Institute. The February tally was just shy of the 190,000 median of estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
The rise was broad-based, with gains from construction to professional and business services. Labor market demand remains solid, with employers reluctant to dismiss workers, despite the uncertainty surrounding continuing trade talks with China.
Despite the slower pace of hiring in February, the ADP figures are a healthy sign ahead of the Labor Department’s February employment report due March 8, which analysts project will show non-farm payroll gains eased to about 180,000 while the jobless rate fell to 3.9%. January’s job growth, originally reported at 213,000, was revised up by 87,000.