Hiring by private companies slowed a little in November, according to the ADP employment report. Small companies led the way, accounting for nearly half of the job gains. (Reuters)

America’s smallest businesses continued to add jobs at a rapid clip last month, even as the country’s overall employment growth slowed, new private-sector data show.

Small companies added 101,000 workers in November, essentially repeating the gains they posted in October, according to data collected by payroll processing firm ADP. This marks the sector’s first back-to-back months of six-figure job growth since January-February 2012.

Unlike October, small companies — those with fewer than 50 workers, by ADP’s definition — weren’t riding a national wave of accelerated employment growth. According to the data, all sizes of private companies added 208,000 jobs last month, down from 233,000 jobs added in October.

ADP President Carlos Rodriguez said in a statement that “small businesses continued to drive job gains, adding almost half the total for the month.”

Continuing a trend from the last few months, employment growth was nearly evenly split between the nation’s smallest companies (those fewer than 20 workers, which added 48,000 jobs in November) and their slightly larger counterparts (between 20 and 50 workers, which added 53,000).

Pedestrians walk by a “Now Hiring” sign posted in the window of a business on November 7, 2014 in San Rafael, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, it was once again service-producing small businesses that created the vast majority of openings last month (93,000) — nearly as many jobs as goods-producing small businesses have contributed all year (105,000).

A similar report by Intuit, another payroll processing company, showed similar results last month. Hiring by small businesses inched up slightly (0.15 percent), while their employees’ wages and hours both increased by 0.3 percent, the survey showed.

November’s employment numbers are the latest evidence that small businesses are heading into the final month of the year with the wind at their backs. About half of small business owners expect holiday sales to increase over last year, recent surveys from Capital One and American Express show.

Asked about their expectations for 2015, half say they feel good about the direction of the national economy, 62 percent are optimistic about their local economies, and 70 percent are expecting stronger sales numbers, according to the Capital One report.

Meanwhile, American Express’s survey revealed that the number of small employers planning to hand out employee bonuses increased markedly this holiday season.

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