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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Small business employment ticked down in July for a third consecutive month, tempering the more positive signals sent by better-than-expected private job gains last month.
The National Federation of Independent Business said on Wednesday the average change in employment came in at negative 0.11 worker per firm.
The survey's findings are at odds with a report by payrolls processor ADP on Wednesday showing private employers added 200,000 jobs in July, after hiring 198,000 workers in June.
The government is expected to report on Friday that employers added 184,000 jobs in July, according to a Reuters survey of economists, down slightly from 195,000 in June.
The unemployment rate is seen falling by a tenth of a percentage point to 7.5 percent in July.
The NFIB survey found that 9 percent of small business owners throughout the country added an average of 2.9 workers per firm over the past few months. About 12 percent of business owners reduced employment. The other 79 percent of business surveyed reported no change in employment levels.
The share of business owners reporting hard-to-fill opening rose one point to 20 percent last month. The portion of businesses that used temporary workers ticked up by three points to 15 percent.
Reporting by Paige Gance; Editing by James Dalgleish