NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. companies hired 218,000 workers in July, marking four straight month of private job growth above 200,000, but the figure fell short of what analysts projected and the previous month's level, a report by a payrolls processor released on Wednesday showed. Private job gains in June were 281,000, which was the strongest reading since November 2012. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast that the ADPNational Employment Report would show a gain of 230,000 jobs. The report is jointly developed with Moody's Analytics.
"The July employment gain was softer than June, but remains consistent with a steadily improving job market," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "If current trends continue, the economy will return to full employment by late 2016."
U.S. companies slowed the expansion of their payrolls from June's blistering pace with goods-producing firms adding 16,000 jobs compared with 43,000 in June.
Jobs in professional and business services increased by 61,000 in July, down from 79,000 in June, while positions in the trade/transportation/utilities category grew by 52,000 versus 56,000 in June.
(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)