Small businesses kicked up their hiring last month

Hope Saidel, co-owner of Golly Gear, an accessories store for small dogs, poses for a photo at her store, in Skokie, Ill. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

(AP) – Small businesses kicked up their hiring last month, adding a robust 118,000 jobs, up from a revised 87,000 in February, according to payroll provider ADP. The company’s small business customers, those with up to 49 employees, have hired an average 93,000 workers each month this year, up from an average 61,000 in 2016.

Manufacturing companies accounted for 32,000, or slightly more than a quarter, of the new jobs in March, and service companies like restaurants, retailers, medical offices and small construction firms accounted for 86,000.

WHAT IT MEANS: Small businesses have stepped up their hiring along with larger companies this year as owners have become more optimistic about their business and the economy in general. Surveys in the past few months have shown owners are more confident and more are considering hiring. They’ve been taking on staffers although signs are pointing to slower economic growth in 2017; many economists are estimating that the economy grew at an annual rate of 1 percent during the first quarter, down from 2.1 percent in the final three months of 2016.

MORE DATA: The Labor Department releases its report on employment during March on Friday. The government doesn’t break out employment by company size, but the numbers will be evidence of how the economy is doing and it can influence small business owners’ optimism and hiring plans.

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