ADP: Private Sector Jobs Up 198,000

Economic Optimism Building

Private Sector Jobs Up 198,000A new report produced by payroll processing firm ADP and forecaster Moody's Analytics shows the U.S. private sector added 198,000 jobs in February, building optimism that the nation's unemployment may soon tick lower. The ADP report was released yesterday – two days before the Bureau of Labor Statistics announces official jobs numbers. Currently, the U.S. unemployment rate stands at 7.9%.

"It feels like underlying job growth continues to improve, and at the current pace, this should be enough to start bringing down unemployment," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "In a really rip-roaring economy, we'd be creating closer to 300,000 jobs a month or a bit north of that. So we're not there yet, but we're moving in the right direction."

According to ADP data, small businesses (between one and 49 workers) added 77,000 jobs in February, medium-sized firms (50 to 499 workers) hired 65,000 new employees and large companies contributed another 57,000 positions. As has been the pattern in recent reports, service-sector jobs grew sharply, up 164,000 in February, while factory jobs rose more modestly by about 9,000. In addition to its positive February numbers, ADP revised its January private payrolls upward to reflect an increase of 215,000 jobs from the previously stated 192,000.

In contrast, though, to this week's ADP's report, two other employment forecasts predicted much weaker February job gains. TrimTabs Investment Research estimated 100,000 jobs were created last month, while employment site reported 131,000 jobs were added.