U.S. private employers added 153,000 jobs in December, below economists' expectations, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Thursday.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the ADP National Employment Report would show a gain of 170,000 jobs, with estimates ranging from 140,000 to 200,000.
Private payroll gains in the month earlier were revised down to 215,000 from an originally reported 216,000 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 170,000 jobs in December, up from 156,000 the month before. Total non-farm employment is expected to have risen by 178,000.
The unemployment rate is forecast to tick up to 4.7 percent from 4.6 percent a month earlier.
(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)