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Disappointment Shadows Latest SME Employment Data

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The latest data from the CBIZ Small Business Employment Index “disappoints,” analysts said.

The report, released Friday (May 5), found a 0.32 percent month-over-month decrease in hiring for the month of April among U.S. small businesses. CBIZ called it a “large decline” compared to the 1.66 percent increase recorded in March.

The numbers may be especially troubling, said CBIZ Employee Services Organization President Philip Noftsinger, because such a decline is atypical for April.

“Although the drop in small business hiring was almost negligible, April has typically been the first month that we start to see seasonal pickup for the spring and summer,” he stated. “This is a result we’ll watch closely, especially as the continual delay in securing fiscal policy change may be causing a slowdown in hiring.”

More than a fifth of SMEs surveyed by CBIZ said they increased their employee counts in April compared to March, but the majority said they made no change, and more than a quarter actually cut staff. According to CBIZ, the data marks the first negative reading for the month of April since the Index first launched. Before this year’s April reading, the month had show an average increase in SME job hiring by 1.03 percent.

“The hype surrounding earnings season so far doesn’t necessarily mean good things are ahead for the U.S. economy, considering many of these companies have heavy overseas operations,” CBIZ said in its announcement, citing slower-than-expected GDP growth for Q1 2017 at 0.7 percent. Future readings may be more promising: “If tax reform can be achieved in a timely manner, then the skies ahead for domestic businesses could clear up,” the company added.

Per usual, the index was released around the same time ADP and Moody’s Analytics release their own report on overall hiring in the country. They found 177,000 jobs added in April, slightly above prior forecasts.

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