NEW YORK (Reuters) — Private employers in the United States hired a far fewer than expected 119,000 people in April, the smallest gain since September 2011, a report showed on Wednesday, adding to concerns that the economy has lost some of its momentum.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the ADP National Employment Report would show a gain of 177,000 jobs.
The report by ADP, a payrolls processor, is jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers and is published two days before the government's broader payrolls report.
"This is an upsetting report," said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Advisors in New York. "The strength of the U.S. economic rebound is clearly still uncertain. Hopefully we don't get a third consecutive summer of weaker growth."
March's private payrolls figure was also revised down to an increase of 201,000 from the previously reported 209,000.
The manufacturing sector shed 5,000 jobs, the first loss since September of last year. That was in contrast to more cheery data on Tuesday that showed a gauge of employment in the sector rose to its highest level since last June.
Friday's payrolls report is expected to show employers hired 170,000 people last month, according to the median forecast in a Reuters poll carried out earlier this week, an improvement from a meager 120,000 in March.
Jonathan Basile, director of economics at Credit Suisse, said Wednesday's ADP report did not change his forecast for a gain of 150,000 in Friday's jobs data, noting ADP had a mixed record as an indicator of the payrolls numbers.
"For what it's worth, the first print of ADP...has had some big misses in recent months in either direction compared to the first print of private payrolls. For instance, ADP overshot by 88,000 in March, undershot by 87,000 in January and overshot by 113,000 in December," Basile said in a note.
Boris Schlossberg, director of FX research at broker firm GFT, said he was watching more closely for the employment reading in the U.S. Institute for Supply Management's survey of the non-manufacturing sector, due out on Thursday, which he said was a better forecaster for the payrolls report.
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