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Private-Sector Payroll Numbers Rise in March

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New private-sector payroll numbers are out this morning from Automatic Data Processing ((ADP - Free Report) , with predictably good results: 517K was the headline for March, exponentially higher than the upwardly revised 176K from February. Goods brought 80K new positions filled, while Services had 437K. The headline was not as strong as the consensus 525K, however, but the clarity of the current economic trajectory is intact.

As we saw in last month’s jobs numbers — particularly February’s nonfarm payroll report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — Leisure & Hospitality was the biggest gainer of new jobs: 169K. It was also the segment hardest hit by “shelter in place” pandemic norms that began a year ago. Trade & Transportation carried 92K new jobs for the month in the private sector, with Professional & Business Services turning in a very strong 83K.

Education & Healthcare, often the biggest monthly gainer of new jobs, both in the ADP and BLS figures, hired 68K new employees in the private sector last month. Manufacturing also pulled a sizable 49K new positions. This segment of the economy has been the steady engine moving forward; goods-producing jobs are the clearest sign yet we’re shedding off the past year’s series of temporary shutdowns.

Medium-sized businesses (between 50-499 employees) led the way with 188K new hires in March, followed by small firms, which hired 174K new people. On a sub-head from there, very small companies with just one to 19 workers added 100K new positions last month. If steady goods-producing jobs numbers don’t convince you we’re into the recovery, then shops run by Mom & Pop opening again had ought to set you straight. Large businesses added a respectable 155K.

Of course, today’s ADP report was just the appetizer. Tomorrow’s weekly jobless claims numbers are coming out, with both new and continuing claims working their way down in recent weeks. Then Friday’s BLS report, complete with a new Unemployment Rate. This is expected to reach a 12-month low at 6.0%. Eventually the PUA program backstopping certain types of unemployment, including long-term, will phase out. But when it does, we will likely be on solid footing in the U.S. labor market.

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