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Franchise industry jobs increased by the dreary figure of 13,900 in March. That is the lowest number of monthly jobs added in over three years. The two largest franchise sectors to hire were restaurants at 7,000 and auto dealers and parts at 5,700, according to the monthly ADP National Franchise Report, which was released April 5.
As franchise hiring dropped, small businesses (private sector businesses with 49 or fewer employees) grew. Small businesses created 118,000 jobs in March, according to ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody's Analytics. That is 14,000 jobs higher than in February.
According to the researcher, private sector employment increased by a strong 263,000 jobs in March. That comes after a blockbuster month the month before—298,000 hires.
"The U.S. labor market finished the first quarter on a strong note," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. "Consumer dependent industries, including healthcare, leisure and hospitality, and trade, had strong growth during the month."
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, said on Wednesday, "Job growth is off to a strong start in 2017. The gains are broad based, but most notable in the goods-producing side of the economy, including construction, manufacturing and mining."
However, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday, April 7, total nonfarm payroll employment had edged up to a disappointing 98,000, a number that is expected nowadays to be in the 200,000 or higher range. Private researcher ADP figures tend to run in tandem with government figures—but not always, with March showing a large discrepancy between the two reports.
The BLS reported that employment increased in professional and business services and that the unemployment rate declined to 4.5 percent nationally in March.