US private payrolls increased 117,000 in February, well below the market estimate, according to ADP Research Institute’s national employment report released on Wednesday.

While analysts expected an increase of 177,000, the figure in January was revised up from 174,000 to 195,000.

Small and large businesses added just 32,000 and 28,000 jobs, respectively, in February, while medium-sized businesses added 57,000.

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

The highest monthly job increase in the private sector was in service-providing trade, transportation, and utilities with 48,000 additions, followed by 35,000 in education and health services.

“With the pandemic still in the driver’s seat, the service sector remains well below its pre-pandemic levels; however, this sector is one that will likely benefit the most over time with reopenings and increased consumer confidence,” said Richardson.

The government’s nonfarm payroll report will be released Friday and is expected to show an increase of 180,000 jobs in February. If realized, it would be much higher than 49,000 jobs in January.

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