According to the ADP Employment report, US private sector employment increased by 158 000 in March, significantly less than the expected 200 000 increase. The February outcome was upwardly revised from 198 000 to 237 000, but this was offset by a significant downward revision in the January figure (from 215 000 to 177 000). The sector breakdown shows that hiring was mainly based in the service providing sector, where jobs increased by 151 000. Within the services sector, the largest increases were seen in business services (39 000) and trade, transport and utilities (22 000), while the financial sector added 9 000 jobs. In the goods-producing sector, hiring eased to the slowest pace in six months (7 000) as the construction sector added no new jobs, following average monthly gains of 29 000 in the previous three months. Employment in the manufacturing sector increased by 6 000 in March. According to the ADP employment report, private sector hiring eased in March to its slowest pace in five months. Part of it might have been due to the sequestration while rebuilding after the Superstorm Sandy is slowing too. Although the correlation between the ADP and official BLS (payrolls) report is not always so tight, we believe that also the payrolls report will show a slowdown in hiring in March.
After the manufacturing ISM, also the US non-manufacturing ISM lost some ground in March. The headline index dropped from 56.0 to 54.4, while the consensus was looking for only a slight drop to 55.5. The weakening in business sentiment is confirmed by the details. New orders (54.6 from 58.2), employment (53.3 from 57.2), new export orders (56.5 from 60.5), inventory change (51.5 from 54.0) and inventory sentiment (59.5 from 62.5) eased in March, while business activity (56.5 from 56.9) and backlog of orders (unchanged at 54.5) stayed (broadly) unchanged from the previous month. Supplier deliveries picked up from 51.5 to 53.0 and also imports accelerated from 52.5 to 57.5. Cost pressures eased significantly in March with prices paid falling from 61.7 to 55.9. While the non-manufacturing ISM fell back more than expected, the index remains above its long-term average, pointing to modest growth. Probably the sequestration weighed on sentiment in the sector in March, but the impact could ease somewhat in the coming months.