U.S. private sector employment rose more than expected in February, posting a gain for a fifth straight month.

Private sector employment increased by 217,000 from January to February on a seasonally adjusted basis, ADP Employment Report said on Wednesday. Markets had expected the US private sector employment to increase by 175,000 in February.

“The recent pattern of rising employment gains since the middle of last year was reinforced by today’s report, as the average gain from December through February (217,000) is well above the average gain over the prior six months (63,000),” said ADP.

A significant part of employment growth in February came from the services sector, where jobs rose by 202,000, recording an increase for thirteen months in a row.

Manufacturing sector posted a gain of 20,000 jobs, while the construction employment dropped by 9,000. However, jobs growth in financial services remained flat in the month. Small businesses accounted for nearly half of private-sector employment growth in February, adding 100,000 jobs.

“Looking at the ADP detail, it is still notable that the biggest proportion of the job gains is among small firms employing less than 50 workers. Early in the recovery these smaller firms were being held back by tight credit conditions, but that no longer seems to be a restraint on the recovery,” said Paul Ashworth, an economist with Capital Economics.