(Bloomberg) -- Layoffs and discharges are starting to pile up at America’s smallest firms.

Some 305,000 workers lost their jobs in October at businesses with less than 10 employees, according to data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up by 137,000 from the previous month. It was the biggest change in any of the firm-size categories broken out by the BLS. 

The job cuts at the smallest US businesses were the most since May 2020 when the pandemic was forcing many of them to shut down. 

Now, amid signs the economy is slowing, many firms are expected to try to hold onto their workers -- since it’s been struggle to find talent since the pandemic hit. But that’s harder for the smallest firms, which lack the financial buffers to absorb blows such as weaker consumer demand or higher borrowing costs. 

The total workforce employed by America’s smallest businesses has shrunk during the Covid era, according to data from ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Stanford Digital Economy Lab that was also released Wednesday. 

Before the pandemic, more than 27.5 million people worked for firms with less than 20 employees. That number is now below 25 million, the latest ADP data shows. By contrast, every other category of firm by staff size has seen employment increase.




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