NEW YORK -- Hurricanes that swept the southern U.S. last month shut many retailers and put hiring on hold at small businesses.
That's the finding of payroll provider ADP, which said Wednesday that its small business customers cut 7,000 jobs during September. Many small and independent retailers in Texas and Florida had to close before and during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and many suffered significant damage from wind, rain and flooding. That slowed hiring, and employees at some stores were laid off. The Labor Department reported a jump in applications for unemployment benefits .
The hurricanes also curtailed overall hiring, ADP said, counting 135,000 new jobs at companies of all sizes, the smallest gain in nearly a year. Without the storm, hiring would likely have been closer to the average monthly pace of 185,000 for the last two years, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, which helps compile the ADP reports.
ADP's small business report includes companies that have one to 49 employees. They have averaged a gain of nearly 60,000 jobs per month this year, but hiring has been weaker in recent months than at the start of the year. Small businesses have been cautious after the economy had a slow start for 2017.