U.S. small business hiring rebounds in December: NFIB

WASHINGTON Thu Jan 3, 2013 1:11pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. small business employment rebounded in December from a storm-related slump, the latest suggestion that job growth probably picked up last month.

The National Federation of Independent Business said on Thursday the net change in employment per firm edged up to 0.03 after slipping to minus 0.04 in November.

It comes on the heels of the ADP National Employment Report which showed the private sector added 215,000 jobs in December after a gain of 148,000 in November. While the ADP report tends to exaggerate employment in December, it has raised the risk of a better nonfarm payrolls number.

The government is expected to report on Friday that employers added 150,000 jobs in December, according to a Reuters survey of economists, up slightly from 146,000 in November.

The NFIB said there were job gains in manufacturing, transportation, professional services, finance, insurance and real estate sectors. There were large declines in construction.

The NFIB survey found that 11 percent of small business owners throughout the country added an average of 2.9 workers per firm over the past few months - up a point from the prior month.

The share of business owners reducing employment edged up a percentage point to 13 percent.

The share of business owners reporting hard-to-fill job openings fell to 16 percent from 17 percent. That suggests little change in the unemployment rate in December after it fell 0.2 percentage point to 7.7 percent in November.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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