Private businesses created 218,000 jobs in July, a number that while solid and in line with trend fell below expectations, according to ADP.
The number also fell well short of the 281,000 created in June—the initially reported total was not revised—and could cause economists to tinker with their projections for Friday's nonfarm payrolls report. Consensus has the economy adding 225,000 total for the month.
Employment growth fell across the spectrum, with service industries again leading the way with 202,000 new positions, down from 238,000 in June. Goods-producing businesses rose 16,000, off from 43,000, while construction gained just 12,000, less than half the previous months' gain.
However, Mark Zandi, the top economist at Moody's Analytics, which formulates the report along with ADP, said the overall direction of the jobs market is decidedly positive. Despite falling short of the the consensus view, July marked the fourth straight month of gains above 200,000.
"There's job growth everywhere, in every industry, increasingly in every corner of the country," Zandi told CNBC. "You can see across all occupations, across all pay scales. Early in the recovery it was mostly lower-paying jobs. Now, it's across the board."
Markets reacted little the report, with stock market futures indicating a slightly positive open and government bond yields edging higher as well.
—By CNBC's Jeff Cox