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Survey: Businesses add jobs at slowest pace in 18 months

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Companies added the fewest jobs in 18 months in March, a private survey found, suggesting employers may have grown more cautious as signs of slower economic growth have emerged.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that businesses added 129,000 jobs last month, down from the previous month’s gain of 197,000. Still, the job gains in March are enough to lower the unemployment rate over time.

All the job gains were in service sectors, such as education and health care, which added a combined total of 56,000. Professional and business services, which include engineering, accounting, and other higher-paid work, added 41,000.

Small businesses added just 6,000 jobs, far below the hiring by large and medium-sized businesses. Smaller companies typically struggle to compete in hiring with bigger businesses when fewer workers are available.

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