Private sector employment increased by 191,000 jobs in March, according to payroll giant ADP, as companies ramped up their hiring as the weather improved.
Small businesses added 72,000 jobs in March, including 38,000 at businesses with between one and 19 employees, and 34,000 at companies with between 20 and 49 employees.
Midsize businesses with between 50 and 499 employees added 52,000 jobs. Large businesses added 67,000 jobs, including 14,000 at companies with between 500 and 999 employees and 53,000 at larger companies with 1,000 employees or more.
The service sector led the way in March, adding 164,000 jobs, while the goods-producing sector gained 28,000. The professional and business services sector, which includes accounting and tax preparation along with other services, added 53,000 jobs. The financial activities sector, which includes banks, added 5,000 jobs. The construction industry gained 20,000 jobs in March, while the manufacturing industry added 5,000. The combined trade, transportation and utilities sector increased by 36,000 jobs.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, which compiles the monthly national employment report with ADP, said the creation of 191,000 jobs in March suggests that the slowdown in the job market earlier in the year was largely due to the bad weather. “As the weather becomes more typical for this time of year, the numbers are going to return to the kinds of growth rates we were expecting,” he said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “The number is very consistent with the kind of job growth we were getting before the winter months, and suggestive of economic growth that is somewhere close to 3 percent of GDP.”
Zandi noted that doesn’t indicate a boom economy, but it’s a step up from the approximately 2 percent growth the U.S. has been experiencing for most of the economic recovery over the past five years. But employers need to gain more confidence and fill some of the open positions that are available in their companies.
“If you look at the number of vacant job positions, it’s actually relatively high, not quite back to where it was before the Great Recession, but it’s not too far off,” said Zandi. “Hiring remains very depressed, at very low levels. I think that is a matter of confidence.”
Zandi believes businesses are going to start taking more risks, expanding their operations, investing more and perhaps doing more hiring. “I feel relatively convinced that is likely in the spring, and going into the summer months we should kick into a higher gear here and see monthly job gains consistently above 200K,” he said.
Zandi noted that the job gains in March were relatively broad based across different types of industries, positions and company sizes. “It’s pretty much across the board,” he said. “We’re seeing not stellar but good, solid job creation.”
However, layoffs have been continuing in the federal government and there have been some weaknesses in local government hiring, he cautioned. Large financial services institutions, such as banks and mortgage companies, are still reducing their payrolls modestly. Zandi has also seen a little bit of weakness in the information services industry.
However, he is starting to find some indications of wage growth, which has been relatively low or stable at around the inflation rate in recent years. “It’s now showing some early signs of picking up, and I think that is suggestive of some tightening in the labor market for the first time since the recession hit,” he said. “We should see more consistent and stronger wage gains over the course of the next 18 to 24 months. That will also be key to the economic recovery, and getting to full employment a few years down the road.”