By Joshua Jamerson

Private-sector hiring slowed in December, according to a report Thursday, underscoring a tightening in the labor force amid near full employment.

Private payrolls across the nation rose by 153,000 from November to December, said payroll processor Automatic Data Processing Inc. and forecasting firm Moody's Analytics. This was less than the 168,000 expected by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. The report is based on data collected from ADP clients in addition to lagged government figures.

"Job growth remains strong but is slowing," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics.

Large- and medium-size business made up a large chunk of the payroll additions, notching gains of 63,000 and 71,000, respectively. Small businesses, defined as those with 49 or fewer employees, added 18,000 to payrolls.

Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP research institute, noted that average private-sector jobs generated per month in 2016 was 174,000, down from 209,000 in 2015.

"As we enter 2017, the tightening labor market will likely slow the growth," Ms. Yildirmaz said, adding that an "unprecedented seven years of growth has brought us to near full employment."

The Labor Department's job report for December is expected Friday. Economists surveyed by the Journal expect employers added 183,000 nonfarm jobs.

Write to Joshua Jamerson at joshua.jamerson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 05, 2017 09:07 ET (14:07 GMT)

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