Job growth stumbled in November, with private payrolls increasing by a mere 67,000 jobs, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report published on Wednesday.
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The count sharply missed the 140,000 jobs that economists surveyed by Refinitiv were anticipating, casting a shadow over what's been a relatively healthy labor market.
“The job market is losing its shine," Mark Zandi, Moody's chief economist, said in a statement. "Manufacturers, commodity producers and retailers are shedding jobs. Job openings are declining, and if job growth slows any further, unemployment will increase."
November's number was a steep decline from the 121,000 jobs added in October, which was revised slightly lower than the 125,000 initially reported.
Despite the end of the nearly six-week General Motors strike, the goods-producing sector lost 18,000 jobs -- an even 6,000 loss across the manufacturing, construction and natural resources/mining sectors.
Small businesses also had a rough month, creating just 11,000 jobs, as firms with fewer than 19 employees lost 15,000 workers.
Most hiring took place in the services-producing sector, with 85,000 jobs created. However, trade and transportation saw a 15,000 loss, while information services also declined by 8,000. The bulk of job creation in the sector stemmed from professional and business services, which added 28,000 and education and health services, which saw a gain of 39,000.
Large companies accounted for the bulk of the job creation: Firms with 50 to 499 employees created 29,000 jobs, while those that employ more than 500 people added 27,000 positions.
"The slowdown has been more significant than I would have thought," Zandi said during a conference call with reporters. "I do think that goes to the trade war. The trade war is doing damage to the economy."
He estimated that overall, the dispute between the U.S. and China has resulted in the loss of 400,000 jobs from the economy and has reduced overall GDP by almost 0.5 percent.
The data precedes the release of a more closely watched update from the Labor Department on Friday. In October, the U.S. added a stronger-than-expected 128,000 positions.