April 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. economy added nearly 130,000 jobs in the month of March -- a bit short of most analysts' forecasts.
Payroll company ADP and Moody's said in their monthly estimate 129,000 jobs were added. That mark would represent the slowest growth since September 2017, if it matches official government figures due Friday. Economists at Dow Jones predict about 170,000 new jobs.
"The job market is weakening, with employment gains slowing significantly across most industries and company sizes," Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi said in a statement. "Businesses are hiring cautiously as the economy is struggling with fading fiscal stimulus, the trade uncertainty, and the lagged impact of Fed tightening. If employment growth weakens much further, unemployment will begin to rise."
Unemployment, though, remains at a historical low, below 4 percent.
The report Wednesday said the greatest weaknesses in job growth were seen in construction, which lost about 6,000 jobs.
Zandi told CNBC the slower job market is partly a result of the U.S. trade conflict with China. Chinese officials visited Washington, D.C., this week hoping to resolve the impasse. The World Trade Organization said in an analysis Tuesday the U.S.-China feud has been a significant obstacle to worldwide economic growth.
"Until [a deal is done], the uncertainty created by the conflict is weighing heavily on the collective psyche," Zandi said.