) -- Far fewer private sector jobs were lost in January than at any point in the last two years, according to a report released Wednesday.

Automatic Data Processing's National Employment Report said employers in the private sector cut a seasonally adjusted 22,000 jobs from their payrolls, fewer than the 30,000 job cuts expected by the Street. The report also noted that was the smallest monthly drop since February 2008.

The report said an upwardly revised 61,000 jobs were cut in December, after earlier estimates said 84,000 jobs were lost in the month.

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"Growth of overall private employment is on the verge of turningpositive," Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, said in the ADP release.

The service sector added 38,000 jobs during the month, marking a second-straight month of increases. But that was outweighed by the goods-producing sector, which lost 60,000 jobs. Manufacturing jobs, which fell by 25,000, dropped its fewest number of jobs since January 2008.

The report typically acts as a prelude to the Labor Department's nonfarm payroll report due Friday. Analysts, on average, expect that report to show about 13,000 jobs were added in January, while the nation's unemployment rate probably held steady at 10%.

In a separate unemployment reading released Wednesday, Challenger, Gray and Christmas said companies planned to shed 71,482 jobs in January, a 70% drop since the previous January. Still, the mark is more than the 45,094 announced in December.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York