By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor
On the Wednesday, ahead of official U.S. unemployment data, which will be published by the government on Friday, Automated Data Processing always releases its numbers. According to ADP’s estimates for March, the private sector added 191,000 jobs during the month. The report is based on the company’s payroll data and is produced in collaboration with Moody’s Analytics; it isn’t always useful in forecasting the official numbers (though sometimes it is).
Large businesses (more than 500 workers) produced an unusually large number of jobs, according to the report: a net of 67,000. As usual, however, small businesses (fewer than 50 workers) produced more: 72,000. Medium businesses—50 to 500 workers—produced a net of 52,000 positions.
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, noted that “the job market is coming out from its deep winter slumber. Job gains are consistent with the pace prior to the brutal winter. The gains are broad based across industries and business size classes. Even better numbers are likely in coming months as the weather warms.”
Home prices still have upward momentum
CoreLogic reported this week that home prices (including distressed sales) were up year-over-year in February by 12.2 percent, which is roughly in line with the most recent Case-Shiller report, though that covered January. Month-over-month, CoreLogic said the increase was 0.8 percent. The CoreLogic House Price Index is a three-month weighted average.
Excluding distressed sales, home prices nationally increased 10.7 percent in February 2014 compared to a year earlier, according to CoreLogic, and 0.9 percent compared to January 2014. The company predicts that home prices, including distressed sales, will increase 10.5 percent year-over-year from March 2013 to March 2014.
“As the spring home-buying season kicks off, house price appreciation continues to be strong,” Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, said. He further posited that “although prices should remain strong in the near term due to a short supply of homes on the market, price increases should moderate over the next year as home equity releases pent-up supply.”
Business owners do a little more hiring in March
According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses on Wednesday,
NFIB owners increased employment by an average of 0.18 workers per firm in March, an improvement over February’s 0.11 reading and the sixth positive month in a row. Eleven percent of the owners (down 1 point) reported adding an average of 2.6 workers per firm over the past few months. Offsetting that, 12 percent reduced employment (up 2 points) an average of 2.1 workers, producing the net gain of 0.18 workers per firm overall.
Wall Street had a more modest up day on Wednesday than Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 40.39 points, or 0.24 percent. The S&P 500 advanced 0.29 percent to hit a new record high, and the Nadsaq gained 0.21 percent for the day.