Economy Watch: ADP Posits Anemic Job Growth

On Wednesday, the ADP National Employment Report reported that private-sector employment increased by 91,000 from July to August.

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

It’s the time of the month again for the publication of employment numbers, first unofficial and then official. On Wednesday, the ADP National Employment Report—which is sometimes at odds with the Labor Department’s numbers and sometime not—said that private-sector employment increased by 91,000 from July to August. Better than nothing, or a decline, but still anemic.

Most of the growth, some 80,000 jobs, came from the services sector. Businesses that produce goods added only 11,000 positions during the month, a number included the loss of 4,000 manufacturing jobs nationwide, which could mean that the industrial sector, so healthy until recently, has lost some steam. Also, ADP’s June to July estimate, which had reported that 114,000 were jobs created, was revised down to 109,000.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas published its employment findings on Wednesday as well, finding that in August U.S. employers planned to cut a little more than 51,000 jobs, which was fewer than during July. But the consulting firm also reported that the public sector, states and municipalities in particular, have bled more than 100,000 jobs this year, due to contracting revenues and a climate of austerity.

ISM reports offer mixed signals on economy

The Institute for Supply Management reported on Wednesday that business in New York City—which has been gamely expanding since the summer of 2009—contracted in August month-over-month. The ISM’s Current Business Conditions index for the city dropped to 47.8 during August, from 57.2 in July. Anything below 50 means a slowing growth rate.

Not all of the components of the New York index were down, however. The employment index saw an uptick from 46.6 to 48.6, month-over-month, while the purchasing-volume index was up to 47.1 from 45.5.

In Chicago, the ISM said its Current Business Conditions index dropped from 58.8 in July to 56.5 in August, the lowest level since November 2009. Even so, the index still indicates growth, especially in the manufacturing sector. To some extent this report counterbalances reports of slowing manufacturing in other parts of the country, so it still isn’t clear yet whether that sector of the economy is contracting or not.

A costly year for disasters

How much will Hurricane Irene cost the United States? The damage totals are still being calculated from North Carolina to New England, but according to the National Climate Data Center on Wednesday, the hurricane has been added to the list of this year’s billion-dollar-plus disasters, since it’s fairly clear it’s going to overshot that dreadful milestone.

There are nine other billion-dollar disasters on the list already for this year. Not counting Irene, the center estimates that total losses for 2011 will be about $35 billion.

Wall Street saw a wobbly day on Wednesday, but ended in the positive column. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 53.58 points, or 0.46 percent. The S&P 500 was up 0.49 percent and the Nasdaq eked out a 0.13 percent increase.

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