ADP: Private jobs numbers miss the mark

The economy added 166,000 jobs in September, coming in well below estimates, according to ADP's monthly jobs report. The ADP numbers carry more weight this month, since the  government shutdown is likely to prevent the BLS from releasing the nonfarm payrolls count Friday.

Matt Rourke/AP/File
A storefront window displaying a now hiring sign in Philadelphia. The economy added 166,000 private jobs in September, according to ADP's monthly payrolls survey.

Private sector job creation came in lighter than expected in September but remained essentially in the same slow-but-steady growth range, according to a report Wednesday.

ADP and Moody's Analytics pegged the monthly total at 166,000, lower than estimates of 180,000, with service-sector positions again leading the way.

While generally used as an indicator for what the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly count will look like, the report takes on special significance now.

The government shutdown is likely to prevent the BLS from releasing the nonfarm payrolls count Friday, meaning markets will have little else to gauge jobs growth on than the ADP numbers.

In turn, the Federal Reserve is closely watching the employment picture to decide whether it should begin to ease back on its $85 billion a month bond-buying program.

The ADP report was largely in keeping with past trends: Small businesses led the way in job creation with 74,000, while large companies added 64,000 and medium-sized contributed 28,000.

Services, which covers a wide swatch from bar and restaurant jobs up to professional assistants, was by far the largest growth areas with 147,000 new jobs. Goods-producing added 19,000.

Trade, transportation and utilities grew by 54,000, while goods producers generated 19,000 and construction added 16,000. Financial activities lost 4,000.

"The job market appears to have softened in recent months. Fiscal austerity has begun to take a toll on job creation," Moody's economist Mark Zandi said in a statement. "The run-up in interest rates may also be doing some damage to jobs in the financial services industry."

In the past, ADP's count has diverged significantly from the government's count. But that gap has narrowed considerably since ADP joined forces with Moody's, to where the gap has narrowed to about 3,000.

"Longer term trends in ADP look very similar to private payrolls. The pace of gains in ADP has been slightly slower than the payroll tally in the past year, but ADP is another check that the economy is adding about 2 million jobs per year," Citigroup economist Brett Rose said in a note. "Further, the longer term data also confirm that small business was slow to recover after the recession, but in the past two years has been adding substantially to employment growth."

ADP revised its count for August down from 176,000 to 159,000, meaning September actually represented a modest gain the pace of job creation.

Market data firm TrimTabs also came out with its own count.

Based on its count of income tax withholding, the firm said there likely were 159,000 jobs added in September, an increase from its count of 79,000 in August.

_ By CNBC's Jeff Cox. Follow him 

@JeffCoxCNBCcom on Twitter.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.