Small businesses added just 17,000 jobs in June as hiring slowed dramatically during the month, payroll processor ADP said Thursday.
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ADP, which counted the number of jobs at its small business customers, also revised lower its count of new jobs for April and May combined; it now says 95,000 were added, down from the 151,000 originally reported.
The June performance was down dramatically from the average of nearly 80,000 jobs added each month this year.
The drop in small business hiring reflects a trend toward slower job growth at companies regardless of size. Economists believe overall hiring may be weakening because the number of available workers has declined as more people have gotten jobs; the unemployment rate stood at 4.3 percent in May.
But small business owners' caution about hiring ever since the recession is also a factor. Their conservative stance has contributed to an unusually slow economic recovery. The gross domestic product rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter, 1.6 percent in 2016 and 2.6 percent in 2015.
The Labor Department issues its report on June employment Friday. While the report won't break out job gains by company size, it will give an indication of what small businesses are doing.
In its monthly report, ADP said U.S. private sector employers added a seasonally adjusted 158,000 jobs in June. Economists were looking for a stronger gain of 180,000 jobs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.