WASHINGTON – Companies boosted payrolls in March by the most in three months, adding to evidence the job market is recovering from a blast of harsh winter weather, a private payrolls report showed.
The 191,000 increase in employment followed a revised 178,000 gain in February that was stronger than initially estimated, according to the ADP Research Institute in Roseland, N.J. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 195,000 advance.
The figures show companies are gaining confidence demand will strengthen from earlier in the year when colder-than-normal temperatures and snowstorms prompted Americans to cut back. Further gains in employment and wage growth will help set the stage for a pickup in household spending, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy.
“We’re starting to see the recovery in the data that we’ve been hoping for,” Brett Ryan, an economist with Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York, said before the report. “This is going to provide policy makers and market participants alike a modicum of confidence that the data swoon over the last couple months is weather-related and not a sign of something more ominous.”
Estimates of the 38 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for gains of 150,000 to 275,000. A Labor Department report due April 4 is forecast to show private payrolls rose by 200,000 in March, economists projected.
ADP’s numbers have missed the mark in tracking government jobs figures over the past couple of months. The group’s initial estimates showed a 127,000 gain in employment for January followed by a 139,000 February increase. That compared with the Labor Department’s initial estimate of a 142,000 gain in January private payrolls and a 162,000 increase in February.
Manufacturers, builders and other goods producers added 28,000 workers in March, Wednesday’s ADP figures showed. Employment in construction rose by 20,000 while factories added 5,000 jobs.
Service providers increased payrolls by 164,000 workers.
Companies employing more than 499 workers took on 67,000 workers. Businesses with 50 to 499 employees added 52,000 and small companies increased payrolls by 72,000, ADP said.