ADP: Small Business Hiring Slows Further In December

WASHINGTON (AP) – Small companies further scaled back their hiring last month, ending 2016 with a gain of just 18,000 jobs, according to ADP. The payroll provider's small business customers were cautious both before and after the presidential election, averaging nearly 31,000 new jobs a month from September through December. That was down from an average of nearly 79,000 from January through August.


WHAT'S GOING ON: Surveys have shown that small business owners are more optimistic following Donald Trump's election as president. But they learned from the Great Recession to play it safe, and not hire until they have the revenue to justify the added expense and risk of taking on more employees — optimism isn't enough to make them expand their payrolls. And many owners have said that if their business increases, they'll rely on their current staffers to handle it.

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         The slower small business hiring in December matched the trend among larger companies. ADP reported U.S. companies added a modest 153,000 jobs, down sharply from 215,000 in November.


WHAT'S AHEAD: The Labor Department's employment report for December, due out Friday, won't break out hiring by company size, but it will still give an indication of what businesses in different industries are doing. The coming months will give a clearer picture of whether small businesses' optimism is translating into stronger job growth.

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