U.S. private employers added more jobs in March than at any point over the previous five months as a reopening of the economy boosted growth in the service sector, according to the ADP National Employment Report released Wednesday.
The U.S. economy added 517,000 private-sector jobs this month, below the 550,000 that economists surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting. February’s reading of 117,000 jobs added was revised up to 176,000.
“Job growth in the service sector significantly outpaced its recent monthly average, led with notable increase by the leisure and hospitality industry,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP. “This sector has the most opportunity to improve as the economy continues to gradually reopen and the vaccine is made more widely available.”
The leisure and hospitality sector added 169,000 jobs, helping the service sector to an increase of 437,000 jobs. The goods-producing sector gained 80,000 jobs amid strength in manufacturing and construction. Only two sectors lost jobs during March. Natural resources/mining saw a decline of 1,000 jobs and information services shed 7,000.
The stronger-than-expected ADP reading could be a precursor to Friday's employment report for March. The Labor Department is expected to say the U.S. economy added 650,000 nonfarm jobs this month, up from a much stronger-than-expected increase of 379,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate is anticipated to fall to 6% from last month's 6.2%, the lowest since March 2020.
Financial markets will be closed Friday in observance of Good Friday.