Small companies reduced hiring in April, adding 61,000 jobs

SEESAW CONTINUES: Small businesses added 61,000 jobs in April, down nearly half from the revised 117,000 in March and 91,000 in February, according to payroll provider ADP. The drop indicates that business owners, while increasingly confident since the election, are holding on to their cautious approach to expanding their companies.

ADP compiles its monthly small business report from data provided by its customers with one to 49 employees. The company's overall customers, which range from the tiniest companies to major corporations, added 177,000 jobs, down from 255,000 in March but still a strong figure.

WHAT IT ALL MEANS: Small businesses have been hiring at an erratic pace over the past year, with ADP reporting gains ranging from zero to March's 117,000. Owners have said repeatedly in surveys that they won't hire unless they have enough new business to justify taking on more employees. Their conservative stance has been a contributor to the slowness of the economy's recovery from the Great Recession. The gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the first quarter.

MORE INFORMATION: The Labor Department releases its April hiring report on Friday. The government doesn't break out hiring by company size, but it will give some indication of how small businesses are faring.