U.S. private payrolls increased more than expected in March, pointing to continued labor market strength.

Private payrolls rose by 184,000 jobs last month after advancing by an upwardly revised 155,000 in February, the ADP Employment report showed. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast private employment increasing by 148,000 last month compared to the previously reported 140,000 in February.

The ADP report, jointly developed with the Stanford Digital Economy Lab, was published ahead of the release on Friday of the Labor Department’s more comprehensive and closely watched employment report for March.

It has tended to grossly overstate the slowdown in the labor market compared to the official employment data. The labor market is gradually cooling following 525 basis points worth of interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve since March 2022.

Government data on Tuesday showed there were 1.36 job openings for every unemployed person in February compared to 1.43 in January.

According to a Reuters survey of economists, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is expected to report that private payrolls rose by 160,000 jobs in March after increasing 223,000 in February.

Total nonfarm payrolls are estimated to have increased by 200,000 jobs in March after rising 275,000 in the prior month. The unemployment rate is forecast unchanged at 3.9% and annual wage growth slowing to 4.1% from 4.3% in February.


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