Private-sector employers added 298,000 jobs in February

Private-sector employers added 298,000 jobs in February
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U.S. businesses added 298,000 jobs in February, the most in three years, as unseasonably warm weather boosted growth in several sectors across the labor market.

Construction, mining and manufacturing all grew at their fastest pace in several years, pushing jobs growth above the 261,000 pace in January, according to the ADP employment report, a survey measuring private-sector hiring.

"February proved to be an incredibly strong month for employment, with increases we have not seen in years,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president of the ADP Research Institute.

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Construction added 66,000 jobs, the best showing in 11 years; manufacturing added 32,000, the most in five years; while mining, which has been gradually picking up pace in recent months after years of shedding jobs, added 8,000 positions last month.

“February was a very good month for workers," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, which compiles the report.

"Unseasonably mild winter weather undoubtedly played a role. But near-record-high job openings and record-low layoffs underpin the entire job market.”

Job gains remain broad-based across all sizes of businesses — medium-sized firms led the way last month, adding 122,000. Professional and business services tacked on 66,000, education and healthcare added 40,000 and leisure and hospitality firms hired another 40,000 heading into the spring. 

For months the job market has been tightening, forcing employers to hang onto their workers and driving down jobless claims to their lowest level since the early 1970s.

The government is set to release on Friday its February report, which covers private and government hiring, with estimates around 200,000 jobs. The economy added 227,000 jobs in January. 

The Federal Reserve is expected to keep a close eye on that report ahead of their meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday to determine whether they will raise short-term interest rates. A strong report is expected to convince central bank officials to raise rates for only the third time in more than 10 years.