Job Cuts Ease in February

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The private sector cut just 20,000 jobs in February, according to Wednesday's ADP National Employment Report. This represents the lowest monthly job loss total since employment started falling in February 2008.

However, January's job loss total was revised up to 60,000 jobs, from the initial report of 22,000. Private employers cut 84,000 jobs in December.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected private employers to cut 10,000 jobs in February.

Separately, private placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said planned layoff announcements by U.S. employers decreased 41% to 42,090 in February compared to January. February produced the lowest monthly total since 37,178 jobs were cut in July 2006, Reuters reported Wednesday. The total is 77% below the 186,350 jobs cut a year ago, in February 2009. Job cuts tabulated by Challenger peaked at 241,749 in January 2009.

ADP: Blizzards Had Little Impact

ADP said the two blizzards that hit parts of the east coast in February "had only a very small effect on today's ADP Report, due to the methodology used to construct it."

The job loss totals in February by business size were: 10,000 (large), and 18,000 (small); however, employment increased 8,000 in medium-sized businesses. The service sector continued to rebound in February, adding 17,000 jobs. Even so, that was not large enough to offset continued losses in the goods producing sector, which lost 37,000 jobs; however, manufacturing added 3,000 positions. Meanwhile, the construction sector lost 41,000 jobs, its 37th consecutive monthly decline, but it was the smallest monthly decline since July 2008.

The key take-a-way concerning the February ADP data? Overall, it was another encouraging report due to the small layoff total of 20,000, and the fact that the manufacturing sector added 3,000 jobs. The construction sector continues to shed jobs, but there, too, the 41,000 loss total was the lowest in more than 18 months. All told, the report paints a picture of a U.S. job market that may be poised to start adding positions.
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