Private-sector hiring breaks out of winter freeze

Wed Apr 2, 2014 1:36pm EDT
 
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By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. companies stepped up hiring in March for a second straight month, offering fresh evidence the economy was regaining momentum after a weather-driven lull over the winter.

Private employers added 191,000 workers to payrolls last month and 39,000 more were added in February than previously believed, payrolls processor ADP said on Wednesday.

The signs of solid hiring added to a steady stream of fairly upbeat data that suggests the economy started to accelerate as the grip of an unusually cold winter began to loosen and helps keep hopes alive that the U.S. economy's performance in 2014 will be its best since the recession ended almost five years ago.

"Whatever impact the weather was having is starting to dissipate and we are starting to see the economy gain traction," said Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The report, which is jointly developed with Moody's Analytics, was released ahead of the government's more comprehensive report on employment on Friday.

That report is expected to show nonfarm payrolls rose by 200,000 in March, the largest gain in four months, according to a Reuters poll of economists. The poll was taken before the ADP data was released, but many economists said the ADP report did not shift their views.

A separate report showed small business hiring increased for a sixth straight month in March. The National Federation of Independent Business said small business employment increased by an average of 0.18 worker per firm, up from 0.11 in February.

Prices for U.S. Treasury debt fell on the signs of quickened hiring, while the dollar rose against a basket of currencies. Stocks on Wall Street were trading modestly higher.   Continued...

 
The undercarriage for a Boeing 777 awaits installation at their assembly operations in Everett, Washington, October 18, 2012. REUTERS/Andy Clark