The latest print of ADP Private Payrolls for the month of March came in at 263.5K, marking the third straight month that the US economy has created more than 240K private sector jobs. To find the last time we saw that, you have to go all the way back to late 2005/early 2006. The chart below shows the three-month moving average of ADP Private Payrolls going back to its beginning in 2002. As shown, from a peak in mid-2014, the pace of job growth had been gradually drifting lower. However, after a double-bottom in October, job growth has been accelerating once again. At its current level of 253K, job growth is at its highest level since June 2014.
What’s so noteworthy about the recent pace of job growth is that it has caught economists almost completely off-guard. For example, each of the last three ADP prints have exceeded expectations by 75K or more for an average beat of 89K. Since economists started forecasting the monthly ADP print in 2006, the only other three-month period where ADP exceeded consensus estimates by a larger average amount was from December 2010 through February 2011. Not only is that strong, but it’s also ‘hard’ data. You know…the stuff that skeptics keep saying isn’t keeping up with so-called ‘soft’ survey data.