U.S. private-sector firms shed 697,000 jobs in February, a jump from January’s 522,000 jobs lost, according to the ADP employment index released Wednesday. 359,000 of those job cuts took place in the hard-hit, service-providing sector. The goods-producing sector took a beating as well, slashing 338,000 jobs in February, marking its twenty-sixth consecutive monthly decline. Professions making up the manufacturing industry dropped a combined 219,000 jobs, marking three full years of consecutive monthly declines. As for construction, employment fell 114,000 in February, bringing the total loss of construction jobs since the peak in January 2007 to over one-million. Large Businesses — defined as those with 500 or more workers — saw employment decline 121,000, while medium-size businesses with between 50 and 499 workers shed a much larger 314,000 jobs. Employment among small-size businesses fell 262,000. “Sharply falling employment at medium- and small-size businesses clearly indicates that the recession is spreading aggressively beyond manufacturing and housing-related activities,” said Joe Prakken, Chairman of Macroeconomics Advisers, LLC. Just last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported initial unemployment claims rose 36,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 667,000 in the week ending Feb. 21, hitting a 27-year high. That volume was an astonishing 95 percent higher than the year-ago level of 342,000. Write to Kelly Curran at firstname.lastname@example.org. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.