Medium-sized businesses are back in hiring mode.
After leading the charge in laying off workers during most of the recession, they added a net 9,000 workers last month, the ADP National Employment Report said Wednesday. That's the first employment growth among companies with 50 to 499 workers in two years.
Overall, the economy still lost 22,000 jobs between December and January, according to the ADP report. But that was the smallest decline since February 2008.
"Growth of overall private employment is on the verge of turning positive,”Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, said in a release. The company puts out the monthly report, based on private payroll data, in partnership with Automatic Data Processing. On Friday, the US Labor Department will release the official unemployment figures for January.
Midsized businesses still have a long way to go. They have lost nearly 3.2 million since the recession began, according to ADP. Nationally, these firms employ more than 42 million Americans, far more than large companies (17.8 million) and nearly as many as small businesses (48 million).
Viewed that way, January is perhaps the start of a long, uphill recovery.