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Mixed Signals On Hiring Ahead Of U.S. Jobs Report

Private companies added 217,000 jobs last month, payroll processor ADP said Wednesday. That's well above the 180,000 analysts had predicted. But a separate report said employers planned to cut more than 50,000 jobs — the highest level in nearly a year.

The numbers come ahead of Friday's Labor Department employment report for February, which also counts government jobs.

ADP said service jobs rose 202,000 and manufacturing employment grew by 20,000. Construction jobs fell by 9,000 and financial services jobs were unchanged, it said.

Outplacement consultant Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said companies announced 50,702 job cuts in February, up 32 percent from a month earlier and the highest total since last March.

"Despite the February surge, the pace of job cutting remains relatively subdued," the firm said. "The two-month job-cut total of 89,211 [for January and February] is 21 percent lower than the 113,572 job cuts" announced in first two months of 2010.

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NPR Staff and Wires