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Private Sector Employment Data in Focus

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Fresh economic data has hit the tape this morning, with results of the private-sector employment survey from Automatic Data Processing (ADP - Free Report)  coming in-line with expectations: 183K new jobs were created in the month of February among non-government businesses. January’s figure was revised up 87K to an even 300K for that month (which was mostly do to a technical re-working of the ADP benchmark).

Goods-producing businesses brought in 44K new jobs, as opposed to the 139K from Services, which is roughly in-line with the U.S. economy breakdown. The estimate for Friday morning’s non-farm payroll headline is right around the same level: 180K, which would be a big pullback from January’s 304K initially reported.

Medium-sized companies (between 50 and 499 employees) tallied the highest number of new jobs at 139K, followed by Large companies at 77K and Small firms picking up the 12K slack. We see here the continuing narrative of smaller companies having difficulties landing employees in such a tight labor market; they do not tend to have the healthcare, stock options and other resources larger companies have.

By sector, as usual the Education/Healthcare group led the way with 37K new jobs in February. Construction and Manufacturing performed well, especially in a storm-ridden winter month, with 25K and 17K, respectively. Leisure/Hospitality turned in a weak February, however: only 4K new jobs came in for this industry last month.

A delayed read on International Trade for December was also reported this morning (its initial report date had been set back due to the 5-week government shutdown), and was a worse-than-expected -$59.8 billion — lower than the -$57 billion expected. This is also the worst read in over a decade, and the worst since the mid-2000s, when only the government-led recovery from the financial crisis built back up trade levels to a more normal range.

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