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Economy in Brief

U.S. ADP Private Payrolls Increase Moderately Again
by Tom Moeller  March 4, 2020

• The labor market remains firm.

• Employment at large companies strengthened last month.

The ADP National Employment Report indicated that private nonfarm payrolls improved 183,000 (1.5% y/y) during February following a 209,000 January increase, revised from 291,000. Earlier increases extending back to 2018 were revised significantly lower and extended throughout industry sectors. The latest rise exceeded expectations for a 150,000 gain in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. During the last three months, payrolls rose an average 186,000 per month, compared to a high of 256,000 in December 2017.

Small payrolls increased 24,000 (0.1% y/y) following a fairly steady 22,000 January gain. Medium-sized payrolls rose 26,000 (1.2% y/y) after a 54,000 rise, but the average three-month gain picked up to 33,000. Large-sized payrolls improved a steady 133,000 (2.3% y/y). Average three-month growth of 135,000 per month was near the high end of the economic expansion.

Within industry sectors, employment at goods-producing firms rose 11,000 (0.4% y/y) last month after a 22,000 January increase. It was the smallest rise in three months. Construction sector payrolls improved 18,000 last month (1.7% y/y) following a 30,000 improvement. Factory sector employment weakened 4,000 in February (-0.2% y/y) and has been falling since early last year. Employment in the natural resource & mining sector eased 3,000 (-1.9% y/y) and was down versus March 2019.

Employment growth in the private service sector increased 172,000 (1.7% y/y) after a 187,000 January rise. Average three-month growth of 170,000 was the firmest since early-2018 and increased from 108,000 in March of 2019. Education & health services jobs rose a moderate 46,000 (2.4% y/y). The number of jobs in the leisure & hospitality sector gained an improved 44,000 (2.3% y/y). Employment in professional business services increased a steady 38,000 (2.0% y/y). Transportation & utilities payrolls rose an improved 31,000 (0.9% y/y), nearly the strongest gain in two years. Payrolls in finance increased a lessened 9,000 (1.4% y/y). Information sector payrolls declined 2,000 and were little changed y/y.

The Automatic Data Processing Research Institute survey is based on ADP's business payroll transaction system covering 411,000 companies and nearly 24 million employees. The data are processed by Moody's Analytics Inc., then calibrated and aligned with the BLS establishment survey data. The ADP data cover private sector employment only.

The ADP National Employment Report data can be found in Haver's USECON database. Historical figures date back to 2001 for private employment and the industry breakdown, and 2005 for the business size breakout. The expectation figure is available in Haver's AS1REPNA database.

ADP/Moody's National Employment Report Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Nonfarm Private Payroll Employment (m/m chg, 000s) 183 209 167 1.5% 1.5% 1.8% 1.7%
 Small Payroll (1-49) 24 22 8 0.1 0.2 0.6 1.1
 Medium Payroll (50-499) 26 54 20 1.2 2.0 2.0 1.9
 Large Payroll (>500) 133 133 140 2.3 1.9 2.3 2.0
Goods-Producing 11 22 16 0.4 1.6 2.9 1.8
  Construction 18 30 18 1.7 2.7 4.1 3.7
  Manufacturing -4 -3 -1 -0.2 1.0 1.9 0.8
Service-Producing 172 187 151 1.7 1.5 1.6 1.7
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