US private firms added 742,000 jobs in April, according to a survey released Wednesday, fewer than expected but nonetheless the fourth consecutive month of gains as the economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The data from payroll services firm ADP bolsters the case that the world's largest economy is regaining positions after the wave of mass layoffs that started in March 2020 when the pandemic shutdowns began.
The job gains were spread nearly equally across firms of all sizes, but concentrated in the service sector, particularly leisure and hospitality -- which was hit hardest by the pandemic's business restrictions.
"The labor market is recovering and job growth is set to accelerate over coming months as the economy continues to move closer to a broader reopening," Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics said.
But the overall increase in private hiring fell short of the 810,000 economists had expected.
The ADP report is considered a preview of the Labor Department's employment report, due out Friday, which is expected to show a blowout surge of a million public and private sector jobs in April as well as a two-tenths drop in the unemployment rate to 5.8 percent.
The US economy has been regaining jobs and the unemployment rate has declined over the past months as Covid-19 vaccines have helped businesses return to normal and rehire, aided by massive government stimulus spending.
ADP said the service sector added a total of 636,000 positions last month, 237,000 of which were in leisure and hospitality, while trade, transportation and utilities added 155,000. The information sector saw a small decline of 3,000 jobs.
Goods-producing firms added 106,000 jobs, including 55,000 in manufacturing, while the construction industry gained 41,000, the report said. Natural resources and mining accounted for the balance.