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Private sector adds 213K jobs in January

Employers in the private sector added 213,000 jobs in January, a little less than expected but still a good sign for the labor market's gradual march toward a full recovery. 

The figure is the lowest level of growth since September but still puts the economy on pace to create 2.5 million jobs this year, according to the ADP National Employment Report released on Wednesday.

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Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, said that the job market is moving in the right direction and the "economy feels pretty good."

Zandi partly blamed the slowdown on businesses in the energy sector scaling back payrolls in reaction to the collapse in oil prices, while industries benefiting from the lower prices have been slower to hire.

Zandi expects the slack in the labor market to shrink in 2015, which should eventually boost wages. 

Within the next couple of years, Zandi said his concern would shift to a lack of available workers, a factor he expects to intensify into 2017 and 2018.

Overall, the report showed that payrolls for businesses with 49 or fewer employees increased by 78,000 jobs in January, down from 115,000 in December.

Employment among companies with 50-499 employees was the only segment that posted an increase in January — adding 95,000 jobs, up from 78,000 in December.

Employment at large firms — those with 500 or more employees — decreased to 40,000 from 61,000 in January.

Companies with 500-999 employees added 14,000 jobs, down from December’s 23,000. Businesses with more than 1,000 employees added 26,000 jobs, down from December’s 39,000.

Construction employers added 18,000 jobs while manufacturers hired 14,000 in January, each lower totals than December.