Superstorm Sandy slows small business hiring

NEW YORK (AP) — Hiring by small businesses slowed to a crawl in November, as many businesses struggled to recover from SuperStorm Sandy.

Payroll service provider ADP said Wednesday that small businesses added just 19,000 workers last month, the smallest increase this year. By contrast, small businesses added 52,000 workers to their payrolls in October.

The bulk of the small-business hiring came from companies that provide services, rather than making goods. Service providers picked up 16,000 workers.

The report was part of ADP's overall look at private-sector employment. ADP said companies added 118,000 workers in November, a drop from the previous month's total of 157,000. It's also below the average hiring pace of 135,000 each month since January.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, which collaborated in the report, estimated that the storm cut 86,000 people from payrolls last month. Manufacturing, retail stores and hotels were among the hardest-hit industries, Zandi said in a statement accompanying the report.

Another survey on small business employment, from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, comes out Thursday.

The two looks at the job market come before the Labor Department releases its closely watched jobs report on Friday. Private economists forecast that the economy gained 87,000 jobs in November and expect the unemployment rate to remain at 7.9 percent.

Some economists think the storm could push the Labor Department's hiring figures much lower.

ADP compiles its report from the companies that use its payroll services. Unlike the Labor Department's report, ADP doesn't count government jobs.

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