Goods-producing employment rose by 7,000 jobs in March, the slowest in six months, ADP said. The construction sector added no net jobs while manufacturing added 6,000 jobs.
Service-providing jobs increased by 151,000, with professional/business services reporting the largest gain with 39,000 jobs added. Trade/transportation/utilities added 22,000 jobs and financial activities added 9,000 jobs.
Economists polled by MarketWatch.com said they expected the ADP report to indicate 251,000 jobs were created in the private sector for March.
"The U.S. private sector added 158,000 jobs in the month of March 2013, with the majority of the new jobs created by service providers," said Carlos A. Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP in Roseland, N.J. "Over the first quarter of 2013, the ADP National Employment Report has reported an average gain of 191,000 new private sector jobs per month."
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, said, "Job growth moderated in March. Construction employment gains paused as the rebuilding surge in the wake of Superstorm Sandy ended. Anticipation of healthcare reform may also be weighing on employment at companies with close to 50 employees. The job market continues to improve, but in fits and starts."
ADP said it revised job gains for the first two months of 2013 -- February's gain of 198,000 jobs was revised up by 39,000 to 237,000 while and January's 215,000 gain reported was revised down by 38,000 to 177,000.