Private sector added 517K jobs in March, says ADP

Private sector employment grew by 517,000 jobs in March as the economy continued to rebound this year despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, payroll giant ADP reported Wednesday.

Small businesses added 174,000 jobs in March, including 100,000 in businesses with between one and 19 employees, and 74,000 in businesses with between 20 and 49 employees. Medium-size businesses with between 50 and 499 employees added 188,000 jobs. Large businesses gained 155,000 jobs, including 49,000 in companies with between 500 and 999 employees and 105,000 in corporations with 1,000 employees or more.

While millions of people across various industries remain out of work after the steep job losses last year, government aid programs like the Paycheck Protetion Program and tax breaks like the Employee Retention Credit are helping boost employment, while Economic Impact Payments distributed by the Internal Revenue Service are helping to fuel spending. The service-providing sector gained 437,000 jobs in March, including 83,000 in professional and business services such as accounting and tax preparation, 9,000 in financial activities like banking, and 169,000 in leisure and hospitality. The goods-producing sector added 80,000 jobs, including 49,000 in manufacturing and 32,000 in construction, but lost 1,000 jobs in the natural resources and mining sector. Franchise employment increased by 15,500 jobs.

“The labor market recovery has gained momentum over the past few months,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP, during a conference call Wednesday. “In March, private sector payrolls were up 517,000. That’s the strongest monthly gain since September. The job gains were broad based across industries and firm size.”

She saw the gains in March outpacing the average job gains across the past six months, with particular rebounds seen in the construction, manufacturing, leisure and hospitality sectors.

The 83,000 jobs gained in professional and business services aren’t as dramatic a change in the report. “This industry was little impacted given the fact that most of the firms in this industry were able to seamlessly almost transition to remote work,” said Richardson. “However, within the professional and business services, we think that administrative and support services deserve special attention. This is a trend we’re watching. Also, support services were hit hard by the widespread closure of physical office buildings, and temp help services also saw payrolls slashed as firms looked to cut costs. These segments will likely improve as firms return to more normal operations. However, the shift that some companies are making to allow for more remote work, hybrid work, and in some cases even a fully virtual office could change demand for these jobs in the future.”

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