Payroll processor ADP says companies added 212,000 jobs last month, a solid gain, though down from 250,000 in the previous month. January's figure was revised up from 213,000.
The figures come just before Friday's government report, which economists forecast will show an increase of 240,000 jobs.
The ADP numbers cover only private businesses and sometimes diverge from the government's more comprehensive report, which includes government agencies.
A burst of hiring in the past year has lifted the number of Americans earning paychecks, and a sharp drop in gas prices means those paychecks can buy more goods and services.