Small business hiring eased as 2018 began, ADP survey says

NEW YORK (AP) — Small business hiring eased at the start of 2018, with companies adding 58,000 jobs in January, down from December’s 93,000, payroll provider ADP said Wednesday.

Despite the decline — which reflected business owners’ ongoing conservative approach to hiring — the January number was close to the 62,000 jobs that small businesses hired on average each month last year, ADP said. The payroll company compiles its report from data provided by its small business customers, those with one to 49 employees.

ADP also said employers of all sizes added a healthy 234,000 jobs in January, a sign that the overall economy is strong. The fact that small business hiring fell doesn’t necessarily mean companies are struggling or their owners are anxious. Surveys have shown that many owners plan to add staffers only when needed, and many won’t expand their payrolls unless they have a significant revenue increase. A Wells Fargo and Gallup survey released last week showed that about a third of small businesses plan to hire in the next 12 months, up 1 percentage point from a survey taken in November.

The government will release its January employment report on Friday. Unlike the ADP report, it won’t break out hiring according to company size. The government report sometimes differs sharply from the ADP tally — in December, while ADP counted 242,000 new jobs at businesses overall, the government reported 146,000.