A private survey found U.S. businesses added fewer workers in November, mostly because superstorm Sandy shut down factories, retail stores and other companies.
Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday employers added 118,000 jobs last month, compared to October's total of 157,000.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, says the storm cut payrolls by an estimated 86,000 jobs. Excluding the effects of the storm, "the job market turned in a good performance during the month."
ADP and Moody's Analytics are calculating job gains with a new method, which covers more businesses. Previous ADP reports often produced figures much different from the government data.
The report only looks at hiring in the private sector and excludes government hiring. The Labor Department will offer a more complete picture of the November job market on Friday.
The storm is also expected to affect that Labor Department report, and many economists expect it will show even fewer jobs added. Some are predicting as few as 50,000 jobs added in November. The unemployment rate is expected to rise to 8 percent from 7.9 percent.
A key reason the reports are expected to diverge: ADP counts people as employed if they remain on a company's payroll, even if that business is closed and employees aren't paid. The government counts them as employed only if they are paid.
Even without the storm's impact, hiring has been only modest this year. Employers have added an average of 157,000 jobs per month since January, barely enough to lower the unemployment rate.
There is little sign yet that business concerns over potential tax hikes and government spending cuts next year are weighing on hiring, Zandi said. However, businesses have cut back on investment in heavy machinery, computers and other equipment, Zandi said.