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Private job growth was a little better than expected in July, though all of the new positions came from the services sector, according to the latest report from ADP and Moody's Analytics.
Companies added 179,000 positions for the month, topping Reuters estimates of 170,000. That was a slight increase from June, which saw an upwardly revised 176,000, 4,000 more than originally reported.
The bad news was that job growth was unbalanced. Services added 185,000 positions, but the goods-producing sector actually lost 6,000 workers. Construction posted a loss that matched that 6,000 number, while manufacturing added 4,000, which actually was a turnaround from June when the sector lost 15,000.
"Job growth remains strong, but is moderating as the economy approaches full employment. Businesses are having a more difficult time filling open job positions, which are near record highs," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, said in a statement. "The nation's biggest economic problem will soon be the lack of available workers."
Despite accounting for the total growth, services actually added less than June, when the sector grew by 203,000.
The numbers come two days before the Labor Department releases its closely watched nonfarm payrolls report, which is expected to show the economy added 175,000 jobs, down from June's initially reported 287,000.
Economists sometimes use the ADP/Moody's report to adjust their payrolls estimate, though the two numbers often show wide disparities.
The biggest single growth area in the private sector was professional and business services, which added 59,000. Trade, transportation and utilities grew by 27,000, while financial activities saw 11,000 new hires.
In terms of business size, the gains were evenly spread. Firms with between 50 and 499 employees added 68,000, small business contributed 61,000, and large companies grew by 50,000.