The pace of hiring by private employers slowed last month. Only 158,000 jobs were added, according to a report issued Wednesday by payroll-processing firm ADP.
This missed the consensus forecast from Briefing.com of 197,000 jobs, and was a sharp drop from February's job growth, which was revised upwards to 237,000 jobs added.
The March ADP tally was the smallest since October, when private companies added 148,000 jobs.
The main cause of the slowdown was a sharp decrease in hiring by construction firms, which did not add any jobs last month. This is a marked contrast from the previous four months. Construction job growth, juiced by the upswing in the housing market, has averaged 29,000 a month according to ADP.