The private sector created 162,000 jobs in September, a bit better than expected, as the service sector continued to be the economy's main employment driver, according to the latest ADP numbers.
Small businesses added 81,000 while medium-sized firms gained 64,000, with large companies generating just 17,000 for the the month, the report from ADP and Macroeconomic Advisors said.
Services firms were responsible for 144,000 of the jobs, while manufacturing generated just 4,000 new positions. The service total was off from the 175,000 increase in August.
Construction jobs jumped, with the 10,000 gain the biggest since March. Financial services also added 7,000.
But with the unemployment ratemired at 8.1 percent and the labor force participation rate, which measures the employed as well as those looking for jobs, at a 31-year low, the story remained the same for the lackluster jobs market.
"Jobs growth of 130,000 a month or so would keep the unemployment rate constant. Plus or minus 30 or 40,000 above or below that is essentially noise," Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisors, told CNBC. "In order to push the unemployment rate down convincingly, we've got to have faster growth than we've been seeing and we just haven't seen that for the better part of this recovery."
Though economists sometimes change their nonfarm payrolls expectation based on the number, ADP's count can be volatile and dramatically off the government's official total, which will be released Friday.
In September, ADP raised hopes that the jobs engine was humming along, with the private sector creating 201,000 positions in August. However, when the government released its own count it found that the actual overall total for the economy was just 96,000 new jobs.
Economists expect the nonfarm payroll number for September to be around 118,000.
The August ADP count was revised lower by 12,000 to 189,000, and July's total was cut 17,000 to 156,000.