First spark of a jobs recovery

By Catherine Clifford, staff reporter

NEW YORK ( -- Main Street businesses shed another 18,000 jobs in February, bring the tally of jobs lost from America's small businesses to nearly 3 million since February 2008, according to a report released Wednesday by payroll processor ADP.

But there are also signs that the worst of the job hemorrhaging is over.

According to ADP (ADP, Fortune 500), small businesses -- those with less than 50 workers -- were hit hardest last month. Medium-sized businesses, with 50 to 500 employees, added 8,000 net new positions to their ranks.

Joel Prakken, chairman of ADP researcher Macroeconomic Advisers, sees a turnaround on the horizon.

"If the recent trend continues, and given first-quarter GDP growth of 5.9%, private employment could rise next month for the first time in two years," he said.

Itty-bitty businesses rebound: A separate employment survey released earlier in the week concluded that the nation's tiniest businesses are already adding workers.

Intuit's first installment of its new, monthly Small Business Employment Index reported that firms with less than 20 employees added nearly 40,000 net new jobs in February -- a sharp contrast to the continued job losses ADP reported. Intuit provides payroll services to small businesses, and based its estimate on online data from 50,000 small business employers.

Tiny companies tend to be the first to cut staff when the economy weakens -- and the first to hire again when it improves. The Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy released a study Wednesday reporting that companies with less than 20 employees began shedding staff back in late 2007.

"Firms with 20 to 499 employees have taken their beating more recently," the SBA's report said.

By Intuit's count, a recovery in Main Street's job market has been under way for a few months already. Small business employment grew 0.8% in the past eight months, translating into a net 150,000 new jobs since June 2009, when the market hit its nadir, according to Intuit.

"Small businesses generally recover faster than larger businesses," said Susan Woodward, the economist who worked with Intuit (INTU) to create the index "To see these figures showing a rise in employment at small businesses is very heartening at a time when good news is scarce."

President Obama and some in Congress would like to add more fuel to the labor market's recovery spark. Last week, the Senate passed a $15 billion jobs bill that includes several hiring incentives, including a Social Security tax break for companies that hire the unemployed. The measure is now being considered by the House of Representatives. To top of page

Just the hot list include
Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Questions & Answers

QHow does a florist sell more in this economy? We changed our business to designing weddings and events only, as the everyday flowers are not selling. We had to throw out too much product at the end of the week -- flowers are perishable! More
Get Answer
- The Flower Lady, Suwanee, Ga.
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.80%3.88%
15 yr fixed3.20%3.23%
5/1 ARM3.84%3.88%
30 yr refi3.82%3.93%
15 yr refi3.20%3.23%
Rate data provided
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:


Bankrupt toy retailer tells bankruptcy court it is looking at possibly reviving the Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us brands. More

Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford charts her career path, from her first job to becoming the first openly gay CEO at a Fortune 500 company in an interview with CNN's Boss Files. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.