Payroll provider ADP said on Wednesday that businesses added a better-than-expected 198,000 jobs in February, adding to evidence that indicates that the labor market remained resilient in February despite fiscal uncertainty and the expiration of the payroll tax holiday, which was effectively a payroll tax hike.
Economists polled by Reuters were looking for a gain of 169,000 jobs gains for last month.
“After a worrying slowdown in the middle of last year, labor market conditions have improved markedly,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, in a note to clients.
The ADP jobs report will be closely read as a possible preview of the Labor Department's employment survey, which is due to be published this Friday. While the ADP survey captures the broader trends in the job market, it isn't a great leading indicator of the official payrolls figures.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' report is likely to show that employers added 160,000 jobs to their payrolls in February, which would leave employment growing at much the same pace as in recent months. Over the past six months, employment growth averaged 177,000 per month. The unemployment rate will likely remain stuck at 7.9 percent.