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Although it often does not mesh with the government's monthly report, Automated Data Processing's report on job gains in the private sector is closely watched because the trend in both reports is almost always in the same direction. In that regard, ADP's report released Wednesday provides no reason for optimism. Private payrolls rose by only a seasonally adjusted 119,000 jobs for April, ADP said, far below the consensus of experts surveyed ahead of time, and below the revised gains of 131,000 for March, originally reported as 158,000. Moody's Analytics conducts the survey with ADP:
"Nearly every industry has seen slower growth since the beginning of the year," Moody's economist Mark Zandi said on CNBC. "Smaller businesses are experiencing much weaker growth."
One good feature of the ADP survey is that it measures job gains or losses by company size. For April, small businesses (1-49 employees) added 50,000 jobs, medium-sized businesses (50-499 employees) added 26,000, and large businesses (500 or more employees) added 43,000. Almost all the gains came from the service sector with 113,000 new jobs added, with only 6,000 in the goods-producing sector. Manufacturing posted a loss of 10,000 jobs; construction added 15,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its report on both public- and private-sector jobs Friday. The median forecast by experts is that the government report will show 148,000 new jobs added compared with just 88,000 last month. But a straight extrapolation of the ADP report to the BLS report would put the number at 110,000.
Another report released Wednesday counted even fewer job gains based on income tax withholding to the Treasury. TrimTabs Investment Research says just 67,000 jobs were added in April.
Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management reported a drop in its manufacturing index for April to 50.7, down 0.6 over March, which itself was down 2.9 percentage points over February. That indicates manufacturing is still expanding but at a slower rate. Positives in the report showed new orders rising to 52.3 percent from 51.4 percent, and the production index rose to 53.5 percent from 52.2 percent.
But ISM's employment index fell by four percentage points to 50.2 percent, the lowest level in seven months and another indication that Friday's government job report will be weak.
All three reports point to yet another spring slowdown after a stronger start in the first few months of the year. That's been the pattern since 2010.