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Private companies are continuing to add jobs, with 200,000 new positions created in March, according to the latest count from payrolls processor ADP and Moody's Analytics.
As has been the case throughout the post-recession economy, services led the way. The sector contributed 191,000 of the total, which actually represented a decrease from the 204,000 in February.
Overall, the total job creation level for last month showed a slight decline from the 205,000 in February, which itself was revised lower from the initially reported 214,000. The March number was spot-on with Wall Street expectations.
Businesses with fewer than 50 employees were at the forefront, adding 86,000 jobs after contributing 76,000 in February. The big February addition from companies with more than 500 employees in February, at 76,000, declined sharply in March with just 39,000 new positions.
At the sector level, trade, transportation and utilities led the way with 42,000, while professional and business services contributed 28,000. The battered manufacturing sector, which had been showing contraction in overall activity, reversed in March and added 3,000 new jobs.
Elsewhere, there were 17,000 new construction positions and 14,000 in financial activities.
"The job market continues on its amazing streak. The March job gain of 200,000 is consistent with average monthly job growth of the past more than four years," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, said in a statement. "All indications are that the job machine will remain in high gear."
The release comes two days ahead of the much-anticipated nonfarm payrolls report the Labor Department releases each month. Economists expect the report to show growth of 200,000 jobs — 187,500 private positions — and the unemployment rate holding steady at 4.9 percent.
Federal Reserve policymakers have been watching the jobs numbers closely as they look to raise interest rates, though the greater focus of late has been on earnings. Economists surveyed by FactSet expect hourly earnings to grow at a 0.2 percent monthly pace and 2.2 percent annualized.