US businesses added 166,000 new jobs in September, according to the giant payroll firm ADP, which warned that the job recovery was "softening".
The figures come as the Labor Department confirmed it would not release the government's official monthly job tally on Friday because of the government shutdown.
According to ADP's latest monthly survey the service industry once again led the jobs growth number, contributing 149,000 new jobs over the month. The growth areas were trade and transportation, which added 54,000 posts, professional and business services, which added 27,000 jobs, and construction, which added 16,000 posts. Some 4,000 jobs were lost in financial activities.
August's ADP jobs growth number was revised down to 159,000 from 176,000.
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, ADP's partner on the report, said: "The job market appears to have softened in recent months. Fiscal austerity has begun to take a toll on job creation. The run-up in interest rates may also be doing some damage to jobs in the financial services industry. While job growth has slowed, there remains a general resilience in the market. Job creation continues to be consistent with a slowly declining unemployment rate."
The shutdown has led the Labor Department to shelve its job report this week. Economists had been expecting the US to add 175,000 to 185,000 jobs to its nonfarm payroll figure in September. Last month the US added 169,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate dipped to 7.3%.
ADP's figures have tracked the Labor Department's in recent months but do not include government jobs. The federal and local governments continue to shed workers.
ADP said that small businesses were leading the recovery. Businesses with 49 or fewer employees added 74,000 jobs in September, while employment levels among medium-sized companies with 50-499 employees rose by 28,000 and employment at large companies – those with 500 or more employees – increased by 64,000.
The figure comes amid more signs that the recovery is continuing, albeit slowly. On Tuesday the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) announced an unexpected rise in manufacturing in September, showing American factories continued to grow orders even as the government shutdown loomed. The ISM's factory index rose to 56.2 in September, its highest since April 2011 and up from 55.7 a month earlier.
But economists are warning that the row over the federal budget threatens to hamper the recovery. If its spills over into the debate over raising the debt ceiling, PNC bank's chief economist Gus Faucher has warned it could "all but wipe out" the US's recovery.
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