Job creation at the company level rose about in line with expectations in August, despite weakness in manufacturing and construction, according to the latest report from ADP and Moody's Analytics.
Companies added 177,000 positions for the month, just above Wall Street expectations for 175,000.
While the headline number appeared solid, the internals were a bit weaker. All of the new jobs came from services, which added 183,000 positions. Goods-producing industries actually lost 6,000 for the month.
"Broadly speaking, the labor market feels really good," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "All of the internals of the labor market are solid."
The disappointment on the goods side featured a loss of 2,000 construction jobs and a net gain of zero in manufacturing. The goods-producing sector lost 5,000 jobs in July as well.
At an industry level, the biggest gains came from professional and business services, which added 53,000. Trade, transportation and utilities contributed 26,000, while financial activities grew by 15,000. Franchises added 19,200.
As for size, gains were fairly evenly distributed. Companies with more than 500 workers added 70,000, while those with fewer than 50 employees gained 63,000 and medium-sized companies contributed 44,000.
The July numbers were revised higher, from an initially reported 179,000 to 194,000. Private payrolls have not grown by more than 200,000 since March.
The ADP report is watched closely by investors as a precursor to Friday's nonfarm payrolls report by the Labor Department. Economists occasionally adjust their projections based on ADP's numbers, though a number this close to consensus may not generate much reaction.
Wall Street is looking for payroll growth of 185,000, with the unemployment rate likely to drop a tick to 4.8 percent.
The Federal Reserve also will be watching the number closely as it weighs whether to enact another interest rate hike after moving its target up a quarter point in December.