US private-sector payrolls increased by a moderate 177,000 in August, according to the ADP Employment Report. Although the increase is below July’s upwardly revised increase of 194,000, the expansion is strong enough to support the view that the US economy is still on track to post stronger growth in the third quarter and repair some of the damage from the weakness in this year’s first half.
“Job growth in August was stable and consistent with levels from previous months as consumer conditions improve,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which produces the data with ADP, added that “the American job machine continues to hum along. Job creation remains strong, with most industries and companies of all sizes adding solidly to their payrolls. The U.S. economy will soon be at full employment.”
Today’s update follows news earlier in the week that private-sector wage growth and consumer confidence have improved recently. Note, however, that ADP’s estimate of job growth in August is below the 12-month average–+192,000–for monthly changes. Also, the year-over-year increase for payrolls dipped to 1.92% last month, which is close to the slowest annual gain in three years. ADP’s numbers still point to a growing labor market in the near term, but today’s update reminds that the trend continues to decelerate.
Economists are looking for a comparable rise in private payrolls for August in Friday’s official jobs report from the government. Econoday.com’s consensus forecast calls for an increase of 175,000 in workers at US companies via the Labor Dept.’s estimate for last month. If the projection holds, private payrolls will advance by 1.95%, slightly faster than the annual gains in the previous three months but still near a three-year low.
The bottom line: positive momentum continues to support the US labor market, but growth continues to decelerate, albeit slightly. The comparatively strong gains in June and July by the government’s reckoning implied that the expansion of payrolls would accelerate in the second half, but today’s numbers from ADP suggest that growth will probably remain moderate.