Payroll provider ADP says small businesses added 61,000 jobs in April, down nearly half from the revised 117,000 in March and 91,000 in February.
The drop indicates that business owners, while increasingly confident since the election, are holding on to their cautious approach to expanding their companies.
ADP compiles its monthly small business report from data provided by its customers with one to 49 employees. The company's overall customers, which range from the tiniest companies to major corporations, added 177,000 jobs, down from 255,000 in March but still a strong figure.
Small businesses have been hiring at an erratic pace over the past year, with ADP reporting gains ranging from zero to March's 117,000. Owners have said repeatedly they won't hire without enough new business to justify it.