Small-business employment increased by 7,000 new jobs in June, the smallest gain in nearly six years, according to ADP.

Ongoing declines at midsize and larger businesses drove down total private-sector employment by 79,000 jobs last month June, including the first service-sector job losses since November 2002, the New Jersey-based payroll firm reported this week.

Homebuilders continued to be hit hardest by the slumping economy, with residential construction firms shedding 34,000 jobs. About 349,000 construction jobs have been lost since August 2006, the report said.

The modest gains in small-business employment amid steep losses at midsize and larger firms is "consistent with the comparative resiliency small-size businesses have demonstrated over the past several years," Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisrers LLC, which produces the report in partnership with ADP, said in a statement.

Prakken said decreases this month across most sectors suggests continued weaknesses in employment.

The ADP monthly employment report is based on national private-sector payroll data.