SLIGHT GAIN: Small business hiring edged up in November but remained weaker than in the first eight months of the year. That’s the finding of a survey by payroll provider ADP, which counted 37,000 new jobs at its customers with up to 49 employees. From January through August, the smallest employers added nearly 79,000 jobs per month on average.
WHAT’S GOING ON: Hiring by the smallest companies remains weaker than at businesses with 50 to 499 workers, which added 89,000 jobs, and at the largest companies, which increased their payrolls by 90,000. Small business owners have indicated in surveys they’ll keep hiring cautiously unless their revenue justifies the expense and risk. Many owners expect to ask their current staffs to take on more responsibilities. They also were treading carefully while they waited for the outcome of the election.
CHANGE AHEAD?: Tuesday’s Commerce Department report that the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.2 per cent during the third quarter, an improvement over an earlier report of 2.9 per cent, might boost owners’ confidence. However, the strength of consumer spending will be a factor in how willing many owners are to expand their staffs; many companies’ target customers are consumers. And many businesses may wait to see what changes in health care, tax and other policies emerge from the government when the Trump administration takes office.