Laying-off America

U.S. private sector cuts 697,000 jobs in February

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U.S. private sector job losses accelerated in February, according to a report by ADP Employer Services that suggests hefty employment declines are on the way in the government’s payrolls report due on Friday.

ADP said on Wednesday that private employers cut 697,000 jobs in February versus a revised 614,000 jobs lost in January. The January job cuts were originally reported at 522,000.

It was the biggest job loss since the report’s launch in 2001 and showed the misery of declining employment spreading broadly and evenly throughout the economy.

The service sector, which often resists the grip of recession longer than other areas, accounted for more than half of the total losses, reflecting the rapid deterioration of the economy in recent months.

“None really escaped the sword here,” Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, whose firm jointly developed the ADP report, said about the service sector.

Economists had expected 610,000 private-sector job cuts in February, according to the median of 23 forecasts in a Reuters poll.

The forecasts in the poll ranged widely from a drop of 730,000 to losses of 500,000.

Still, on Wall Street, stock futures held onto earlier gains. Government bonds, which generally benefit from weak economic data, extended their losses.

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