Private-sector employers added 191,000 jobs in March

Private-sector job growth picked up pace in March as employers added 191,000 positions, a positive sign for the economy that trudged through months of severe winter weather.

Jobs gains were broad-based across all sizes and sectors of business, a sign that the labor market slowdown was mostly caused by the severe winter weather that nearly brought the economy to a halt in the past few months, according to new figures in the ADP national employment report released Wednesday.

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics who oversees the survey, said that even though the job market hasn’t come back as fast as hoped, this latest report reflected signs of steady gains that should continue into the warmer months. 

"The job market is coming out from its deep winter slumber," he said.

"Job gains are consistent with the pace prior to the brutal winter. Even better numbers are likely in coming months as the weather warms.”

Zandi expects the job market to produce between 225,000 and 250,000 jobs a month into the summer, which should fuel business confidence and, in turn, more aggressive hiring and investment.

He said the jobs gains, which were revised up in February to 178,000 from 139,000, is a sign that the "job recovery is in full swing."

The latest data show that the economic stall in the past few months was largely weather related and "strongly suggests that weather effects were very, very pronounced here," Zandi said.

The recent jobs growth is suggestive of an economy that is growing at a 3 percent annual pace rather than the 1.5 percent that is likely to come out of the first three months of the year, Zandi said. 

Still, Zandi blamed part of the slowdown on the December expiration of an emergency federal program that provides unemployment insurance to those who have been out of work for at least six months.

The Senate is poised this week to pass a bipartisan compromise measure that would provide a five-month, retroactive extension of the program.

The bill’s fate is unclear in the House because Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said that the bill doesn’t meet GOP demands for job-creating initiatives. 

The ADP report also showed that the construction sector added 20,000 jobs compared with an average of 16,000 during the prior three months.

Manufacturers added 5,000 jobs in March, the same as February.