U.S. private employers shed 23,000 jobs in March, missing expectations for an increase in jobs although fewer than the adjusted 24,000 jobs lost in February, a report by a private employment service said on Wednesday.
The February fall was originally reported at 20,000.
The median of estimates from 35 economists surveyed by Reuters for the ADP Employer Services report, jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, was for a rise of 40,000 private-sector jobs last month.
The ADP report is seen as an early indicator of the Labor Department’s employment report due out Friday. However, there can be wide variations because ADP only accounts for private-sector jobs.
Economists expect the Labor Department’s report to show employers added 190,000 jobs in March. It would be only the second monthly increase in jobs since the recession began in late 2007. The number could be somewhat inflated because the government hired temporary workers to conduct the 2010 census.
The weak ADP report could temper some expectations for Friday’s data.
Jobs growth is considered vital to a strong, sustained recovery because it will give consumers more confidence to go out and spend on goods and services. And consumer spending is the biggest driver of economic activity in the country.
The worse-than-expected jobs report appears set to provide a disappointing end to an otherwise strong first quarter.