Manufacturing added 5,000 positions while construction gained 4,000, ADP said. The largest total, 50,000, came from professional and business services, while 40,000 were in the trade, transportation and utilities sector.
Economists expected ADP to report private jobs growth of 180,000, while weekly jobless claims, which will be released at 8:30 am ET, likely edged lower by 1,000 to 330,000.
Medium-sized businesses, with between 50 and 499 employees, were the main growth engine with 74,000 new jobs, while small businesses created 71,000.
Claims move lower
Economists had expected only a slight decline from last week in terms of weekly jobless claims, but the picture was even better than expected.
The total from the previous week was adjusted slightly higher to 332,000.
The four-week moving average, which smooths fluctuations in the data, fell 3,000 to 328,500.
Both the ADP and weekly claims numbers will feed into the Fed's computations of when it wants to start easing the throttle on its $85 billion a month bond-buying program known asquantitative easing.
The U.S. central bank is expected to begin tapering its purchases in September.
The final number in the equation likely will be Friday's nonfarm payrolls report, expectations for which could be adjusted higher given Thursday's improving data.
A separate Labor Department report showed U.S. labor costs were flat in the second quarter, a sign of minimal inflationary pressures in the economy that could fan concerns inflation is too low.
The reading, which revised down an earlier estimate for the data, was well below the 0.8 percent gain analysts were forecasting in a Reuters poll.
At the same time, the report showed productivity rose 2.3 percent during the period, which was a bigger gain than expected and gave a more hopeful sign for the outlook for wages.
_ By CNBC's Jeff Cox. Follow him @JeffCoxCNBCcom on Twitter. Reuters contributed to this report.