WASHINGTON Small businesses in June reported cuts to their staff for the first time this year, the National Federation of Independent Business said on Thursday in the latest sign the economy has lost a step.
A survey by the NFIB of 740 small businesses found that the seasonally adjusted average change in employment per firm fell by 0.11 in the three months through June after being flat in the period through May. The reading has not been negative since December.
"The figures suggest that job creation has been very weak," said NFIB economist William Dunkelberg.
The survey, which was announced ahead of Friday's U.S. government payrolls data, found a net 3 percent of small businesses plan to create jobs.
The government payrolls data, due for release at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT), is expected to show U.S. employers created 90,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey of economists, after generating 69,000 positions in May, the fewest in a year.
Economists expect the jobless rate to hold at 8.2 percent in June.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)