US companies add 263K jobs in March, most in 2 years

Economists polled by MarketWatch expect the government's report to show nonfarm employment rose by 178,000 jobs last month, compared with a February gain of 235,000 jobs. Even mining added 4,000 new jobs in March, after the trend line for the previous years since the Great Recession showed consistent losses. Meanwhile, the February figure was revised down from 298,000 to 245,000.

US companies added 263,000 workers in March, the most since December 2014, suggesting further tightening of the labor market, payrolls processor ADP said on Wednesday.

The healthy gain follows solid increases in January and February and suggests that rising business confidence is translating into stronger hiring. Many economists estimate that the economy grew at roughly a 1 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year.

Wage growth has been running at a 2.5-3.0 percent year-over-year pace, which is modest by historical standards, Zandi said.

Small and medium-sized businesses posted the biggest increases. Medium-size businesses, or those with 50-499 employees, added 100,000 jobs.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected ADP to report 185,000 new private-sector jobs in March, and also expect the U.S. Labor Department to tally gains of 175,000 in the public and private sectors, when it reports Friday.

Small businesses led the charge with a gain of 118,000 jobs, indicating growth in the one to 49 employee companies.

While the goods-producing segment may have grown faster, the lion's share of the new jobs were in the larger service-providing sector, which accounted for 69 per cent of the net new positions. Yet homebuilders are also stepping up construction in response to heavy demand for homes.

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The ADP covers only private businesses and often diverges from official figures.

Strong job gains in the coming months will likely add upward pressure on wages, supporting the Federal Reserve's view for at least two more interest rate increases by the end of 2017.

  • Zachary Reyes