U.S. private employers added 166,000 workers to their payrolls in September, according to payroll processing firm ADP. The firm's latest estimate, released Wednesday morning, comes in below consensus expectations, which were around 180,000, according to Bloomberg.
The latest ADP report signals that U.S. job growth continues at a steady but anemic pace. ADP's September figure is barely unchanged from the company's estimate for 161,000 new jobs in July and 159,000 in August, and comes in slightly above the Labor Department's estimate for 152,000 private-sector jobs added in August. Modest-but-steady job gains are part of a long-standing trend in the U.S.'s long recovery from the economic crisis, says one economist.
"Over the past three years, monthly job growth has been between 150,000 and 200,000 per month." said Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics, in a call with reporters on Wednesday. "This is right in that range." However, he noted that "the job gains in the last few months have been on the soft side."
According to ADP's latest figures, the trade, transportation and utilities industry added 54,000 jobs in September, and professional and business services added 27,000 workers. Construction showed a solid gain of 16,000 jobs, which may signal continued strength in the housing sector. Meanwhile, manufacturing made a tepid gain of 1,000 workers, and finance lost 4,000 jobs.
In a statement on the figures, Zandi said that a recent rise in interest rates may be to blame for some of the financial service industry's job losses.
ADP's figures are closely watched each month in advance of the monthly jobs report from the Labor Department and are often seen as a bellwether for the government numbers. While the figures have shown a strong correlation over time, they do not track perfectly, in part because ADP does not count changes in government employment.
But there are also often discrepancies; for example, ADP currently lists 161,000 new workers for the month of July, while the government says 127,000 were added for that month. August's gap was smaller, with ADP counting 159,000 new private-sector jobs that month, compared to the government's count of 152,000. Though revisions could still bring the figures closer together, initial estimates from either source can be well off the mark.