Weak hiring continued in February, with U.S. companies adding slightly more jobs than in January, but severe winter weather limiting job creation for the third consecutive month, a private-sector report said Wednesday.
Payroll processor ADP said businesses added 139,000 jobs last month, up from 127,000 in January. The February figure missed analyst expectations for 160,000 jobs and was far below the average of 186,000 jobs added in each of the previous 12 months.
Like many other weaker-than-expected economic reports recently, economists were quick to blame the disappointing figures on snow and frigid temperatures.
“Bad winter weather, especially in mid-month, weighed on payrolls. Job growth is expected to improve with warmer temperatures,” said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, which helps ADP compile the report.
Some companies also built up large inventories of goods in the second half of 2013, which means they are ordering fewer products in the current quarter, slowing output. “They’re all temporary weights on growth, and we should see a pickup … as we move into the spring and summer months,” Zandi said.
The ADP report comes two days before the government will release its more comprehensive figures on job growth and unemployment for February. Economists expect a gain of 150,000 jobs last month.