May 4 - Private U.S. payrolls grew by a smaller-than-expected amount in April and layoff announcements were at their lowest of the year, according to two private reports ahead of official statistics due on Friday. Conway G. Gittens reports.
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New data suggest a recovery in the labor market continues to be unsteady.
Private payrolls grew by 179,000 last month, according to payroll company ADP; that figure was below Wall Street consensus. But in a positive sign figures for March were upwardly revised.
Meanwhile, planned layoffs fell to their lowest of the year. Job cut announcements were down 12 percent in April compared to March and down 5 percent from a year ago in a survey tracked by consultants Challenger, Gray and Christmas.
But these are just pieces of the puzzle.
Alec Young of Standard & Poor's.
SOUNDBITE: ALEC YOUNG, EQUITY STRATEGIST, STANDARD & POOR'S (ENGLISH) SAYING:
"As far as the economic data goes we are about to get the biggest report we get every month, the labor report, non-farm payroll report on Friday. I think the market is looking for a couple hundred thousand jobs. We've seen some gradual improvement in the jobs market. That's going to be a very important number on Friday."
According to a Reuters poll economists predict a dip in new jobs to 186,000, while the unemployment rate holds steady at 8.8 percent.
But a weaker-than-expected report on the services sector highlights the downside risk to those forecasts. Growth in the massive U.S. services slowed sharply in April to its lowest growth in more than a year.
Conway Gittens, Reuters
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