Companies added fewer workers than projected in February, a sign that U.S. employers were waiting for a pickup in demand before boosting headcount, a private report based on payrolls showed today.
The 139,000 increase in employment followed a revised 127,000 gain in January that was weaker than initially reported, the weakest two months since August-September 2012, according to the ADP Research Institute in Roseland, New Jersey. The median forecast of 39 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 155,000 advance.
Harsh winter weather conditions, which kept some shoppers away from stores and car dealerships, help explain why companies were hesitant to accelerate hiring at a more robust pace. Faster payroll growth that spurs bigger wage gains would help to boost the consumer purchases that make up almost 70 percent of the economy.
“Employment was weak across a number of industries,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said in a statement. Moody’s produces the figures with ADP. “Bad winter weather, especially in mid-month, weighed on payrolls. Job growth is expected to improve with warmer temperatures.”
Estimates in the Bloomberg survey of economists ranged from gains of 100,000 to 180,000 after a previously reported increase of 175,000 in January.
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