NEW YORK Hiring by small businesses slowed in May, but there was a slight increase in the number of employers planning to create new jobs, the National Federation of Independent Business said.
A survey by the NFIB of 681 small businesses found that the seasonally adjusted average change in employment per firm slipped to 0.0 worker per firm from 0.1 in April.
The survey - announced ahead of Friday's government payrolls data - showed the net percentage of businesses planning to create new jobs rose a point to 6 percent.
Not seasonally adjusted, 17 percent plan to increase employment at their firm, down one point, and 5 percent plan reductions, unchanged from April.
"Overall, the May NFIB survey anticipates modest job creation (140,000) with little change in the unemployment rate but if anything, a reduction in the rate," the NFIB said in a statement.
Small companies were still struggling to find qualified applicants for open positions with 19 percent reporting openings for skilled workers.
"While firms have eased layoffs, they haven't resumed strong hiring," the statement said.
The government payrolls data, due for release at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT), is expected to show employers created 150,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey of economists, after generating 115,000 positions in April, the fewest in six months.
Economists expect the jobless rate to hold at a three-year low of 8.1 percent in May.
(Writing by William Schomberg. Editing by Bernadette Baum)