U.S. private employers added 156,000 jobs in April, well below economists' expectations and the weakest gain in three years, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Wednesday.
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Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the ADP National Employment Report would show a gain of 196,000 jobs, with estimates ranging from 116,000 to 225,000.
It was the smallest increase since April 2013.
Private payroll gains in the month earlier were revised down to 194,000 from an originally reported 200,000 increase.
The report is jointly developed with Moody's Analytics.
The ADP figures come ahead of the U.S. Labor Department's more comprehensive non-farm payrolls report on Friday, which includes both public and private-sector employment.
Economists polled by Reuters are looking for U.S. private payroll employment to have grown by 193,000 jobs in April, down from 195,000 the month before. Total non-farm employment is expected to be 202,000.
The unemployment rate is forecast to stay steady at the 5.0 percent recorded a month earlier.
(Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)