WASHINGTON -- A private survey shows that U.S. companies increased hiring at a healthy pace last month, suggesting that the jobs market is recovering from a brutal winter.
Payroll processor ADP (ADP) says private employers added 191,000 jobs in March. ADP also revised February's job creation up to 153,000 from an originally reported 139,000.
The construction industry added 20,000 jobs in March, up from an average 16,000 the previous three months. Financial firms added 5,000 jobs, the most since November. Hiring was healthy across most industries and businesses of different sizes.
The numbers suggest that the government's jobs report for March, to be released Friday, will show stronger hiring. Economists forecast the government will report that employers added 195,000 jobs last month. That would be the strongest one-month gain since November.
The ADP numbers cover only private businesses and often diverge from the government's more comprehensive report.
The economy appears to be gaining some momentum after an unusually cold and snowy winter.
U.S. auto sales rose 6 percent to 1.5 million vehicles last month, far outpacing analyst expectations. The sales pace was the fastest since November, according to Autodata Corp.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, which prepares the ADP numbers, said the hiring last month was "very consistent with the kind of job growth we were getting before the winter months and is suggestive of economic growth of somewhere around 3 percent" at an annual rate. The economy grew a sluggish 1.9 percent last year.