WASHINGTON (AP) — A private survey shows U.S. businesses kept hiring at a modest pace in July, suggesting the job market could be improving after three sluggish months.

Payroll provider ADP said Wednesday that businesses added 163,000 jobs last month. That's slightly below a revised total of 172,000 jobs it reported for June.

The report only covers hiring in the private sector and excludes government job growth. The Labor Department will offer a more complete picture of July hiring on Friday.

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