US economy continues to slow

The pace of job losses in the US economy continued to ease last month, with private sector employers axing 20,000 jobs in February, compared to 60,000 in January.

The figures from the payrolls firm ADP raised hopes ahead of official job market statistics from the US Labour Department, which are due at the end of this week. Worried by the severity of recent snow storms in the north east of the country, analysts currently expect the report to show that the world’s largest economy lost 50,000 non-farm jobs last month, compared to 20,000 in January.

“The employment story is about the weather,” Zach Pandl, an economist with Nomura Securities, said, adding that “quirks of calculation” were going to be an important factor this month. “Everybody is wondering how much weather impact there will be on [the] non-farm payrolls…. Given that they’re calculated in different ways, we think it’s reasonable to expect a larger decline in non-farm payroll employment than we saw in the ADP report...”

David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s ratings services, was more hopeful, saying that figures should prove to be “in line with what we will see in the national number on Friday”. “The unemployment rate should pick up to 9.8 per cent,” he said.

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