Small businesses extend streak of erratic job creation

NEW YORK — Small business hiring gained in April, extending a run of erratic job creation.

Payroll provider ADP's monthly tally of small business hires released Wednesday showed companies added 77,000 jobs last month, a jump from an upwardly revised 20,000 in March and 30,000 in February. ADP's numbers, which reflect hiring at its customers who employ up to 49 workers, have fluctuated since last summer.

Small business owners have been cautious in their hiring ever since the recession, choosing to wait until they have the revenue to justify the risk and expense of new employees. They've also struggled in recent years to find skilled workers.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said he doesn't see a change in small business hiring, which he has described as slow. The April gain "was likely overstated due to several technical measurement issues," he said.

Monthly economic figures including the ADP report are often subject to revisions, so economists look at hiring over a period of months to discern a trend. Small businesses created on average 52,000 new jobs a month last year, down from 56,000 in 2017.

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