U.S. businesses added more than 200,000 jobs in February for the 13th straight month, a private survey found. It was the latest sign that strong hiring should boost the economy this year.
Payroll processor ADP says companies added 212,000 jobs last month, a solid gain, though down from 250,000 in the previous month. January's figure was revised up from 213,000.
"While February’s job gains came in slightly lower than recent months, the trend of solid growth above 200,000 jobs per month continued,” said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP, in a press release. “What is also encouraging is that job gains are broad-based across all key industries.”
The figures come just before Friday's government report, which economists forecast will show an increase of 240,000 jobs.
The ADP numbers cover only private businesses and sometimes diverge from the government's more comprehensive report, which includes government agencies.
"Job growth is strong, but slowing from the torrid pace of recent months," said Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi in a statement. "Job gains remain broad-based, although the collapse in oil prices has begun to weigh on energy-related employment. At the current pace of growth, the economy will return to full employment by mid-2016.”
A burst of hiring in the past year has lifted the number of Americans earning paychecks, and a sharp drop in gas prices means those paychecks can buy more goods and services.
"Taken at face value, today’s data suggest some downside risks to our forecast for a 250k rise in private nonfarm payrolls in Friday’s employment report from the Labor Department," Barclays Research economist Blerina Uruci said in a statement. "We expect a moderation in the pace of employment growth following strong hiring in recent quarters, and the February ADP report is broadly supportive of this view."