RPT-U.S. small business hiring picks up in January -NFIB

Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:56pm EST

WASHINGTON Jan 31 (Reuters) - U.S. small businesses boosted employment in January by the most in nine months, helped by the transportation and real estate sectors, the National Federation of Independent Business said on Thursday.

The NFIB said the net change in employment per firm rose to 0.09 this month from 0.03 in December.

January's reading was the highest since April 2012.

The NFIB survey was released a day ahead of the government's monthly payrolls report. Analysts polled by Reuters expect non-farm payrolls to have increased by 160,000 in January, a lackluster rate although marginally higher than in December.

The jobless rate is seen holding steady at 7.8 percent.

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