WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. small businesses cut jobs for the fourth straight month in August, the National Federation of Independent Business said in a report that casts a shadow over recent signs of strength in the economy.
The Nashville-based small business association said on Wednesday firms on average reduced their staff by 0.3 workers.
The U.S. economy accelerated sharply in the second quarter led by a jump in exports, while consumer demand remained resilient despite this year's tax hikes. A report on Tuesday showed new orders at America's factories in August grew at their fastest pace in over two years.
The Labor Department is expected to report on Friday that employers of all sizes added 180,000 workers to their payrolls last month, beating July's pace of hiring.
Small businesses, however, appear to be adding workers with less gusto. Eleven percent of the firms surveyed by the NFIB reported they cut staff in August, compared to 8 percent who added workers.
Still, there were signs of improving sentiment. The NFIB survey showed job creation plans rose sharply, with a net 16 percent of small firms planning to increase the size of their staff. That was the highest reading since January 2007.