U.S. employers shed 20,000 private-sector jobs in February according to a report by ADP on Wednesday, fewer than the 60,000 jobs lost in January and inline with analysts' expectations.
With the labor market remaining one of the weakest points of the economy, analysts were encouraged by the easing trend.
Recent severe winter storms in the U.S. Northeast had little impact on the report, but the weather could have a sizable effect on Friday's payrolls number, Macroeconomic Advisers LLC chairman Joel Prakken said in a conference call.
Prakken said he was expecting February's non-farm payrolls number to be a good deal weaker than the ADP number.
The ADP figures are seen by some analysts as a proxy for the government's closely watched report on non-farm payrolls. The U.S. Labor Department will release its February labor report on Friday at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT).
Analysts expect the report to show the economy lost 50,000 jobs last month, compared with 20,000 the month before, according to Reuters data.
The median of estimates from 31 economists surveyed by Reuters for the ADP National Employment Report, jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, was for a decline of 20,000 private-sector jobs last month.
The January fall was originally reported at 22,000.
(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)