Private-sector employment increased by 158,000 in October

September's figures were revised up to 114,000 from 88,000, while August's numbers ticked up slightly to 82,000, from 76,000. 

The ADP report comes a day ahead of the Bureau of Labor Statistics release on Friday, which covers public and private payrolls. 

Expectations are for total monthly gains between 130,000 and 140,000, with unemployment rate increasing slightly to 7.9 percent from 7.8, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics, which is working with ADP on its monthly figures. 

Within a normal expansion, the job growth in the private sector this month would be considered solid. But it is clear that this economy needs job creation to occur at a faster rate.

"It feels like the job market is holding its own," Zandi told reporters. 

While businesses are scaling back investment in the face of looming fiscal issues, they continue to hire at a slow pace, he said. 

A separate report released Thursday showed that applications for first-time unemployment benefits dropped last week by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 363,000 for the week ended Oct. 27, the Labor Department reported. 

The four-week average, a better indicator of the job market's trend, increased by 1,500, to 367,250.

When applications fall below 375,000, economists argue that the labor market is healthier, with a hiring pace by employers that is fast enough to bring down the unemployment rate. 

Economists don't think the final job report before the presidential election will sway many voters if jobs estimates come in around expectations. 

Businesses say they have slowed hiring over uncertainty about the fiscal cliff, a mix of expiring tax provisions and a new round of spending cuts, which could go into effect next year without action by lawmakers. 

Congress is expected to hammer out — at least — a short-term solution when it returns to Washington after the elections for a lame-duck session. 

In Thursday's report, the service sector continued its dominance, adding 144,000 jobs last month. 

Construction jobs increased by 23,000, but manufacturing, which has slowed in recent months, lost 8,000. 

The loss of manufacturing jobs is temporary and has been saddled by the European financial crisis, Zandi said. 

This story was updated at 9:30 a.m. 

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