Job creation by U.S. businesses slowed last month to its lowest level since fall as construction firms and retailers pulled back on their hiring, payroll firm Automatic Data Processing said Wednesday.
Private-sector firms added a still-solid 177,000 net new jobs in April, ADP reported. But that was a sharp decline from a downwardly revised 255,000 the previous month and the fewest since October.
The figures for April come after the government reported a sharp slowdown in consumer spending in the first three months of 2017 as the economy stumbled to its worst overall quarterly growth in two years.
"Job growth slowed in April due to a pullback in construction and retail jobs," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, which assists ADP in preparing its report.
"The softness in construction is continued payback from outsized growth during the mild winter," he said. "Brick-and-mortar retailers cut jobs in response to withering competition from online merchants."
The ADP report is based on an analysis of the company's payroll data. It is not an official government estimate — that will come Friday from the Labor Department — but can signal what those figures will show.
Analysts expect the Labor Department to report that the economy added a total of 185,000 net new private- and public-sector jobs last month. That would be in line with the latest ADP data and a significant improvement over the disappointing 98,000 net new jobs the Labor Department reported for March.
The unemployment rate is expected to have ticked up to 4.6% in April.
Federal Reserve policymakers are analyzing recent economic data as they meet this week to decide whether to raise a key short-term interest rate.
With economic and job growth slowing, Fed officials are expected to hold the rate steady when they announce their decision Wednesday.
ADP's figures don't always align with the government's official data. There was a large discrepancy in March.
The big change in April's ADP data came from construction companies, which reduced their payrolls by 2,000. Those businesses had added 44,000 net new jobs in March and a total of 154,000 in the first three months of the year as unusually warm weather allowed spring projects to begin early.
Manufacturers added 11,000 net new jobs in April, about a third of the previous month's growth, ADP said.
And job growth in the leisure and hospitality industry declined to 35,000 in April from 50,000 the previous month.
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