Small business hiring surged at year-end, with payroll company ADP counting 89,000 new jobs at its small business customers.
That was up from a downwardly revised 38,000 in November, and gave small businesses an average of nearly 42,000 new jobs each month during 2018.
December's increase was the biggest gain for small businesses in what was an erratic year. Hiring was down from the 2017 monthly average of 61,000 new jobs.
Some of the dip was due to the fact that businesses have struggled to find candidates for their open positions. But owners have also been cautious about hiring, holding back until they were sure they had enough new revenue to justify the added cost and risk.
Hiring was also robust last month at companies of all sizes, with 271,000 new jobs, ADP reported. The Labor Department's report on December employment will give further clues about small business hiring, although the government does not break out job gains by company size.
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