) -- The employment market continues to show signs of acceleration in 2011, with companies adding more than 200,000 jobs once again in March.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, the private sector added 201,000 jobs in March, slightly lower than the 210,000 jobs economists were expecting according to consensus estimates from

. The ADP also lowered its estimate for February jobs to 208,000 from 217,000.

Still, over the past four months, the private sector has added an average of 211,000 jobs, three times the average monthly gain of 74,000 over the preceding four months from August to November.

Employment in the service-providing sector rose by 164,000, employment in the goods-producing sector rose 37,000. Manufacturing employment rose 37,000, the sixth consecutive monthly gain. Construction showed a marginal drop of 5,000. Financial services saw an increase of 4,000.

Employment for small businesses, defined as those with fewer than 50 workers, rose 102,000 in March. Hiring in small businesses is an encouraging sign of improving business confidence.

The ADP comes ahead of the crucial nonfarm payrolls report on Friday. The economy is expected to have added 185,000 jobs, with the private sector contributing 203,000 jobs.

--Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York

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