U.S. businesses added 178,000 jobs in May, according to a survey, a solid total but below the average monthly gains accumulated over the winter.
Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that hiring was strong in construction, education and health care, and professional and business services, which includes accounting, engineering and legal services. Retailers cut jobs.
The figures suggest companies continue to hire at a healthy pace but may be pulling back as the number of people who can't find jobs dwindles, making it harder to find new employees. From November through March, monthly job gains averaged well over 200,000.
The report arrives two days before the government releases the official monthly employment figures. Economists forecast that Friday's jobs report will show employers added 190,000 jobs, according to a survey by data provider FactSet.
ADP compiles hiring data from millions of companies that are clients of its payroll services. Its figures frequently diverge from the government's report. For example, last month ADP said 204,000 jobs were added in April, but the Labor Department's report said the total was 164,000.
On Wednesday, ADP revised April's figure significantly lower, to 163,000, very close to the government's estimate.
Companies of all sizes hired more last month, ADP said. Large businesses with 500 and more employees added 56,000 jobs, while medium-sized companies gained 84,000 and small companies, 38,000.
The solid increase in hiring by large firms, which typically do business globally, suggests that the ongoing trade disputes between the United States and China, Mexico and Canada have yet to impact hiring.