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Small businesses continue slow pace of hiring

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Small businesses kept to their slow pace of hiring during October, according to two reports Thursday.

Payroll service ADP said small businesses added 50,000 workers last month, and medium-sized businesses added 27,000. And the National Federation of Independent Business said a survey of its members showed that employment at small companies crept up an average 0.02 workers during the month.

Both reports are signs that owners are still cautious while they wait to see what happens to their companies' revenue, the economy and next week's election. Recent surveys have shown that owners are unwilling to take on new employees or expand their companies because there is so much uncertainty about what business will be like in the months ahead.

ADP considers a small business to have up to 49 workers, and a medium-sized business up to 499.

However, the federal government considers a small business to have 499 or fewer workers. Using the government's standard, small businesses added 77,000 workers.

The October report was the first in which ADP included numbers for what it considers medium-sized businesses. It previously included them under the category of larger companies. In September, ADP said small businesses added 81,000 workers.

The report was part of ADP's overall look at employment at companies. It said employers added a total of 158,000 workers last month, an improvement over the 114,000 in September and 82,000 in October.

The reports came a day before the government releases its report on employment during October. The Labor Department does not report employment according to the size of companies. However, about 99 percent of businesses in this country are small.

ADP compiles its report from payroll figures at the companies that are its clients

The NFIB survey showed that owners had marginally added to their staffs after four months of job cuts. The advocacy group said manufacturing and construction companies showed the strongest gains in employment. The number of companies planning to hire workers was unchanged from September _ only 4 percent said they plan to hire.

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