U.S. private employers added fewer jobs than expected in February, even as the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide eased and state governments lifted some lockdown measures implemented to curb the spread of the virus, according to the ADP National Employment Report released Wednesday.

The report showed that companies added 117,000 jobs last month, missing the 177,000-job increase that economists surveyed by Refinitiv had predicted.

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“The labor market continues to post a sluggish recovery across the board,” Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP, said in a statement. “We’re seeing large-sized companies increasingly feeling the effects of COVID-19, while job growth in the goods-producing sector pauses.

The job gains were concentrated heavily in services-related businesses, which accounted for 131,000 of the total increase. Trade, transportation and utilities led those businesses with 48,000 new jobs created, while education and health services added 35,000 positions.

The leisure and hospitality industry, one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, saw its payroll increase by 26,000 last month. Read more at FOX Business