U.S. companies added 162,000 jobs in September, more than economists expected but still pointing to slow improvement in the labor market, data from a payrolls processor showed on Wednesday.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the ADP National Employment Report would show a gain of 143,000 jobs.
The increase in private payrolls in August was revised down to 189,000 from the previously reported 201,000. July's rise was also revised down, to 156,000 from 173,000.
The report is jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers LLC.
"This is consistent with a moderate pace of job growth and we still haven't made much headway with the losses during the downturn," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
"We would like to see growth on the order of 200,000 to 250,000."
U.S. stock index futures added to gains immediately after the data, while the dollar edged higher against the yen.
The ADP figures come ahead of the government's much more comprehensive labor market report for September due on Friday, which includes both public and private sector employment.
That report is expected to show job growth improved slightly, with employers adding 113,000 jobs. Private payrolls are seen rising by 130,000.
Economists often refer to the ADP report to fine-tune their expectations for the payrolls numbers, though it is not always accurate in predicting the outcome.