Key Takeaways: The manufacturing job market continues to show signs of strength, with the sector adding 14,000 workers in February. Since the end of 2016, manufacturers have hired nearly 14,700 each month—a robust pace. In the larger economy, nonfarm payrolls were up by 235,000 in February, well above the consensus estimate of around 195,000.
ADP said that manufacturers added 14,000 workers in February, once again extending the strong job gains in the sector as production and the overall outlook have improved substantially. Indeed, manufacturing business leaders have hired at a robust rate since the end of 2016, averaging nearly 14,700 per month over the past 14 months. In contrast, manufacturing employment was more sluggish in 2016, illustrating the turnaround in the labor market since then. More importantly, we expect continued strength in job growth moving forward.
Meanwhile, total nonfarm private employment increased by 235,000 in February, easing from 244,000 workers added in January but notably better than the consensus estimate of around 195,000. As a reference, nonfarm private payrolls have risen by 193,097 per month on average since the end of 2016, up from a monthly average of nearly 172,500 in 2016.
In February, the largest employment growth included leisure and hospitality (up 50,000), professional and business services (up 46,000), trade, transportation and utilities (up 44,000), education and health services (up 43,000), construction (up 21,000) and financial activities (up 9,000). Employment in the information sector fell by 1,000 for the month. Small and medium-sized businesses (i.e., those with fewer than 500 employees) accounted for 70.2 percent of the net job growth for the month.
On Friday, we would expect to see similar labor market strength in the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with the current consensus indicating an increase of around 205,000 nonfarm payrolls in February. In addition, we would anticipate continued healthy job growth for manufacturers. In the BLS data, the sector added 15,000 workers in January, extending the average of 15,750 per month seen in 2017.