WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. private-sector employment grew by 57,000 in February, the weakest job growth since July 2003, according to the revamped ADP national employment index released Wednesday. Job growth in February was about a third of the 167,000 averaged over the previous three months. The ADP index rose by 126,000 in January.Job creation has never been particularly strong during this economic expansion, and with the exception of surprisingly strong numbers in November and December of 2006, the data has been indicating for some time that we are in a period of gradually slowing job growth.
The ADP index, produced by Macroeconomics Advisers LLC for Automatic Data Processing Inc., is considered by many economists to be the single-best indicator of the government's monthly nonfarm payroll report, which will be reported on Friday.
Adding in some 20,000 government jobs created in a typical month, the ADP report would signal payroll growth of about 80,000 in February. Economists are currently projecting job growth of about 100,000 for Friday's report after a 111,000 gain in January.
It will be interesting to see Friday mornings's numbers...