Updated March 30 at 9:30am

Report: U.S. companies add fewer workers in April


WASHINGTON - Companies in the U.S. added the fewest number of workers in seven months in April, a reminder the job market will take time to strengthen, a private report based on payrolls released Wednesday.

Employment increased by 119,000 following a revised 201,000 gain the prior month, according to figures from Roseland, N.J.-based ADP Employer Services.

The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 170,000 advance.

Companies may stay cautious about expanding their workforce until they see more evidence that the gains in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, will be sustained.

A Labor Department report in two days is projected to show that private payrolls accelerated in April, while unemployment held at 8.2 percent.

“Employers are becoming reluctant about taking on more workers,” Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, said before the report. “There are questions about where global growth is headed, especially with problems in Europe flaring up again. We’ll see very modest growth in payrolls.”

The projections ranged from 100,000 to 200,000, based on the estimates of 37 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Over the previous six reports, ADP’s initial figure was closest to the Labor Department’s first estimate of private payrolls in October, when it overstated the gain in jobs by 6,000.

The estimate was least accurate in December, when it overestimated the employment gain by 113,000.

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