Private-sector job growth slowed a bit last month, but employers still added a fairly strong 204,000 net new positions, payroll firm Automatic Data Processing said Thursday.
The figure was a drop from July's downwardly revised 212,000 and below analysts' expectations for a gain of about 223,000 positions.
Still, August was the fifth-straight month ADP has said private-sector job growth exceeded 200,000.
The data indicate that the labor market is continuing to expand at a robust pace as economists await Friday's government report on total August job growth.
"Steady as she goes in the job market," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which assists ADP in preparing the report.
"Businesses continue to hire at a solid pace. Job gains are broad-based across industries and company sizes.”
In another sign of an improving jobs situation, first-time claims for unemployment benefits remained low last week.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims rose by 4,000 to 302,000. That's about the weekly pace over the last month and a level that economists say indicates strong labor-market growth.
ADP said August produced strong gains in construction and manufacturing jobs, higher-wage positions that are important to improved economic growth.
Construction companies added 15,000 net new jobs in August, up from 13,000 the previous month. Factories increased their payrolls by 23,000 in August, the best monthly performance since December 2012, ADP said.
Analysts expect the Labor Department to report Friday that the economy added 230,000 net new jobs in August, an improvement over the previous month's 209,000.
It would be the seventh-straight month net job creation topped 200,000, the best stretch since 1997.
The unemployment rate is forecast to have ticked down to 6.1% last month, matching the nearly six-year low it reached in June.
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