Private wage growth disappointed in February despite otherwise encouraging signs of economic growth, according to an ADP report on Wednesday.
The companies added just 117,000 jobs during the month, well below the 225,000 forecast by economists polled by Dow Jones.
The total was also a sharp drop from January’s revised upward of 195,000 jobs.
The weak ADP came in despite solid forecasts for economic growth in the first quarter. According to the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow tracker, the US is on track to see 10% growth by 2021.
“The labor market continues to recover slowly across the board,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP. “We see large corporations increasingly feeling the effects of COVID-19 as employment growth in the commodity manufacturing sector pauses.”
All of the net employment growth came from the service side.
Retail, transportation and utilities led the sectors with 48,000 additional positions last month. Education and healthcare rose 35,000 while the ailing hotel industry, worst hit by the pandemic, only created 26,000 jobs. The sector is down 3.8 million from a year ago, just before the worst crisis hit in Covid-19.
Professional and business services contributed 22,000 to the total.
The manufacturing sector lost 14,000 jobs in the course of the month, while construction roles fell by 3,000.
“With the pandemic still in the driver’s seat, the services sector remains well below its pre-pandemic levels. However, this sector is likely to benefit the most over time, with reopenings and increased consumer confidence,” said Richardson.
Companies with 50 to 499 employees saw the greatest growth with 57,000 new jobs, while small businesses added 32,000 and large companies added 28,000.
Although the numbers can vary widely, the ADP survey can sometimes provide clues to the closely watched report on non-farm payroll that the Department of Labor publishes each month.
January produced only 49,000 non-farm jobs, according to the government, well below the ADP estimate compiled by Moody’s Analytics. The February government report is expected to post a profit of 210,000, according to Dow Jones estimates.