Private payrolls rose 89,000 in September, far below expectations, ADP says

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Private payroll growth tailed off sharply in September, according to an ADP report Wednesday that provides a counterweight to other signs that the labor market is still running strong.

The payroll processing firm said job growth totaled just 89,000 for the month, down from an upwardly revised 180,000 in August and below the 160,000 estimate from economists polled by Dow Jones.

Perhaps more importantly, the report provides some sign that a historically tight labor market could be loosening and giving the Federal Reserve some incentive to stop raising interest rates. ADP also said annual wage growth slowed to 5.9%, the 12th consecutive monthly decline.

However, the ADP numbers can differ significantly from the government’s official count, which comes Friday. Economists estimate nonfarm payrolls increased by 170,000 in September, down from a 187,000 rise in August, according to Dow Jones.

Job gains, according to Wednesday’s report, came almost exclusively from services, which contributed a net 81,000 to the total. Of that total, virtually all came from leisure and hospitality, which added 92,000.

Other sectors posting gains included financial activities (17,000), construction (16,000), and education and health services (10,000). However, they were offset by losses of 32,000 in professional and business services, 13,000 in trade, transportation and utilities, and 12,000 in manufacturing.

“We are seeing a steepening decline in jobs this month,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP.
“Additionally, we are seeing a steady decline in wages in the past 12 months.”

The report comes a day after the Labor Department said job openings unexpectedly rose sharply in August. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey results sent a jolt into financial markets, aggravating worries that the Fed will need to keep monetary policy restrictive to control inflation.

However, the ranks of those the department considers unemployed also rose considerably, taking down the ratio of job openings to available workers to 1.5 to 1, where it previously had been as high as 2 to 1.

ADP said job growth was strongest at companies with fewer than 50 employees, a sector that added 95,000 positions. Medium-sized companies contributed 72,000, while those with 500 or more employees lost 83,000.