WASHINGTON -- Employment growth slowed last month as the private sector added 158,000 jobs, a sharp reduction from February and below analyst expectations, payroll processing firm ADP said Wednesday.
The March figure was well below the 237,000 private-sector jobs added in February, a number that was revised up from the initial report of 198,000.
Economists had expected ADP would show about 200,000 private-sector jobs were added in March.
The ADP report is a key private data point ahead of the government's monthly unemployment report, which is due Friday.
Analysts have been expecting the Labor Department to report that the overall economy added about 198,000 payroll jobs last month and that the unemployment rate held steady at 7.7%. The economy added a stronger-than-expected 236,000 jobs in February.
“Job growth moderated in March," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, which assists ADP with its monthly report. "The job market continues to improve, but in fits and starts.”