July 5, 2004 -- Fewer jobs were added to the economy in June than in previous months, according to a new report, but small businesses and entrepreneurs are showing impressive gains.

New jobs totaled 112,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The consensus before the announcement was 250,000 new jobs, according to a poll by Barrons.

Meeting with a group of entrepreneurs, President Bush commented, "It's remarkable to be able to stand up and say to you that our economy is strong and getting stronger. We're witnessing steady growth and that's important. We don't need boom or bust growth."

"One of my most important jobs is to help create an environment in which the entrepreneurial spirit flourishes," he said.

The increase marked the tenth straight month of gains. However, economists say that it takes at least 150,000 new jobs to absorb the new entrants into the job market each month.

The overall unemployment rate remained steady at 5.6 percent.

April and May payroll gains were revised to 324,000 and 235,000 respectively, which represented a total downward revision of 35,000.

The National Federation of Independent Business' June survey of small businesses showed that small firms are still steadily producing jobs. Owners reported an average increase of 0.3 workers per firm, up from 0.2 workers in May.

"By industry, hiring is seasonally strong in construction and agriculture," said William Dunkelberg, chief economist at the NFIB. "The slowdown in home finance is slowing the demand for labor in finance, insurance and real estate. Manufacturing labor demand remains very strong."