Employment’s Up? Layoffs Are Up? What?

Employment in the private sector grew 217,000 in February, the ADP National Employment Report said today.
That’s more than 200,000 jobs in the service sector, as well as a handful of jobs in manufacturing.

A separate report, obtained by Reuters, is expected to show that employment rose by 185,000 in February, not 217,000. And according to consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, the number of layoffs in February was the highest since March 2010 and a 32 percent jump from January 2011.

Challenger said that rising gas prices “could force employers to postpone hiring plans” at best, and at worst, set off another round of layoffs and send the economy back into its tailspin.

Conflicting information indeed. Friday’s jobs report from the government should clear up some of the conflicting numbers, but as always, we won’t know the full story until months later. Hindsight is always 20/20 after all.