U.S. Companies added the smallest number of jobs in 4 years

Companies in the U.S. added fewer jobs in July. The 48,000 increase, the smallest in four years, followed a revised gain of 143,000 for the prior month that was less than previously estimated, ADP Employer Services said.

The worst housing slump in 16 years and high fuel costs have damped consumer demand, and may have prompted companies to slow hiring. A Labor Department report this week is forecast to show the economy added jobs in July at about the same pace as in June, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey.

A lot of people will be revising down their payroll estimates,'' said Robert Stein, senior economist at First Trust Advisors in Lisle, Illinois. ``Firms are holding on to their workers but not hiring at quite the rapid pace of last year. That's what happens when the economy temporarily slows.''

The ADP report was forecast to show a gain of 100,000, according to the median estimate of 20 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Estimates ranged from 60,000 to 120,000. Employers added 130,000 workers to thei  payrolls last month after a gain of 132,000 in June, according to the median estimate in the Bloomberg survey ahea  of the Labor Department's Aug. 3 report. Economists also forecast the unemployment rate held at 4.5 percent for a fourth month and wages were up 3.8 percent from July 2006.

ADP includes only private employment and does not take into account hiring by government agencies. Macroeconomic Advisers LLC in St. Louis produces the report jointly with ADP.

U.S. Companies added the smallest number of jobs in 4 years

Bloomberg, ADP
8/1/2007 6:26:50 AM