Small businesses with less than 50 employees slashed 12,000 jobs last month, the smallest decline since July of 2008, but businesses in the service sector actually added jobs for the second consecutive month.

Small-business employment in the service-providing sector increased by 16,000, according to a report by payroll giant ADP, although that figure was more than offset by a decline of 28,000 jobs in the goods-producing sector.

Among businesses of all sizes, total employment fell by 22,000 jobs in January. Besides the 12,000 lost in small businesses, 9,000 jobs were lost in midsized businesses with between 50 and 499 employees, while large businesses with 500 or more employees cut 19,000 jobs. The goods-producing sector lost 60,000 jobs, according to ADP, but the service sector gained 38,000 jobs, the second consecutive monthly increase in the service sector overall.

In specific industries, employment in the manufacturing sector dropped by 25,000, but that was the lowest employment decline since January 2008. In the construction industry, employment decreased by 37,000, the third straight year of consecutive employment declines in that industry, according to Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, which compiles the reports for ADP.

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