The nation's private employers added 130,000 jobs in October, reports payroll processing firm ADP. The figure comes in just below consensus estimates, which stood around 138,000, according to Bloomberg.
ADP's estimate also is little changed from the Labor Department's estimate of 126,000 private jobs added in September. That month, job growth came in well below expectations, and this latest estimate of private payrolls signals continued sluggishness in the job market.
"October was a weak month," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, which co-produces ADP's report, in a call with reporters Wednesday morning. He said slow job growth throughout the summer and now in the fall have been due in part to "significant fiscal austerity the country's trying to digest," dating back to sequestration cuts made in the spring.
The fiscal feuding that characterized October also likely played a part in dragging job growth downward. Though a prolonged government shutdown largely affected federal workers, it also likely helped make employers more cautious, especially when coupled with brinksmanship over the debt ceiling, Zandi said.
"It's hard to know for sure. but my sense is that problems in Washington affected hiring. The rate of hiring probably slowed," he said. "And moreover, there was some direct impact from furloughs at private employers" who work with the government, he added.
ADP found that the trade, transportation, and utilities industry added 40,000 jobs in October, and professional and business services added 20,000 new jobs. Construction posted a solid gain of 14,000, with manufacturing adding 5,000 jobs. Meanwhile, finance firms subtracted 5,000 jobs this month.
The ADP report usually comes out only days before the government jobs report, which is typically released on the first Friday of each month. While the October ADP report comes on time this month, the government jobs report will be delayed one week, until Nov. 8, due to the government shutdown that delayed the release of most government economic reports.
When the Labor Department's jobs report is finally released, it will be tougher than usual to decipher. Furloughed government employees would have technically counted as "unemployed," meaning the count of jobless Americans may be artificially high.
Though the ADP report indicates a slowing job market, Zandi remains optimistic that the recovery remains in place, albeit at a slower pace.
"I do think it's clear the job market has slowed [and] growth is weak, but it's not breaking. I don't think the recovery has been undermined by all the things that have been going on," Zandi said.