A net gain of more than 200,000 payroll jobs and a slight dip in the national unemployment rate generally are forecast for the March reports due Friday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some analysts have put their job growth estimates as high as 250,000, but a private survey released Wednesday by payroll processor ADP settled on a seasonally adjusted gain of 189,000 jobs last month. That was the first time in 13 months that the ADP survey came in under 200,000 jobs.
“Job growth took a step back in March,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which analyzed the survey data.
The ADP numbers cover only private businesses and often differ from the government reports that include public employers.
An outlook published by J.P. Morgan Funds expects the national unemployment rate to be 5.4 percent for March, a slight dip from 5.5 percent in February, the lowest jobless rate since 2008.
National hiring has been comparatively robust this year. Employment gains averaged 321,500 jobs over the last four months, according to the government report.
A CareerBuilder survey released Thursday found that 35 percent of employers it surveyed hired full-time employees in the first three months of 2015, up from 29 percent in the same quarter of 2014. Only 9 percent reported a decline in head count so far this year, compared with 11 percent in the same period last year.
Looking ahead, the CareerBuilder report said 32 percent of employers plan to add full-time staff in the second quarter this year, up from 26 percent in the second quarter of 2014. Eight percent said they expect to downsize staff, the same as last year.
CareerBuilder also noted an upswing in temporary hiring. In fact, more employers expect to add temporary workers — 37 percent — than permanent workers in the second quarter.
A separate report by the Society for Human Resource Management pinpointed hiring plans in the manufacturing sector and found that 97 percent of manufacturers said they were hiring. But 60 percent of them reported difficulty in recruiting qualified workers.