U.S. private-sector firms hired new staff at a modest pace in February but the previous two months were much better than previously reported, payrolls company ADP said Wednesday.
Private companies added 212,000 jobs last month, it said, slower than the average for the past six months but still reasonably encouraging, analysts said.
Meanwhile January's figure was revised higher by 37,000 to 250,000 new jobs, and December by 22,000 to 253,000.
Manufacturing added 3,000 jobs in February, well below the 15,000 jobs added to the sector in January.
Most of February's gains were services jobs, with a notable surge in the financial services sector. Construction jobs were also strong.
But layoffs in the oil industry due to the collapse in crude prices has begun to temper the bottom line number of net new jobs, ADP said.
"While February's job gains came in slightly lower than recent months, the trend of solid growth above 200,000 jobs per month continued," said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP.
"What is also encouraging is that job gains are broad-based across all key industries."
On Friday the U.S. Labor Department releases its official jobs market data for February, which includes private and government sector hiring.
Saying that the ADP numbers temper expectations for the Friday report, Sterne Agee Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza noted, "Weakness resulting from port disruptions and cold winter weather may, however, act as a welcome scapegoat for an overly soft February report, putting increased pressure on the March release to signal the 'real' underlying trend in US employment."
Analysts on average expect a figure of 240,000 net new hires and that the jobless rate will fall to 5.6%.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015.
Additional reporting by IndustryWeek.