WASHINGTON Small business employment slipped in November as Superstorm Sandy shut businesses along the East Coast, the National Federation of Independent Business said on Thursday.
The NFIB said the net change in employment per firm dipped to "minus 0.04" last month from a positive reading of 0.02 in October.
"Although large national firms will not experience much of an employment impact, thousands of small firms were shut down along the East Coast, and large numbers have not reopened," it said in a statement.
It said stripping out responses from states hit by the late October storm from the rest of the country, there was less hiring and more job loss in those states.
"Job openings were fewer in number and, looking ahead to the next few months, more owners in those states planned to reduce employment, although the same percentage planned to create new jobs," the NFIB said.
The survey was released ahead of the government's more comprehensive payroll count on Friday. Non-farm payrolls likely increased only 93,000 in November, held down by the monster storm, according to a Reuters survey of economists.
The unemployment rate is seen steady at 7.9 percent. Non-farm payrolls increased 171,000 in October.
The NFIB survey found that 10 percent of small business owners throughout the country added an average of 2.4 workers per firm over the past few months - down from 11 percent.
The share of business owners reducing employment rose by a percentage point to 11 percent. The share of business owners reporting hard-to-fill job openings rose to 17 percent from 16 percent.
"This measure is highly correlated with the unemployment rate, so the NFIB survey anticipates little change in the unemployment rate fundamentally, although Sandy will clearly put a weighty thumb on the numbers that will be hard to adjust for," the NFIB said.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Jan Paschal)