WASHINGTON Nov 3 U.S. small businesses shed
employees for a fifth straight month in October, but the pace
of layoffs moderated, a survey showed on Thursday.
The National Federation of Independent Business said
employment fell by an average of 0.1 per firm from 0.3 in
September, according to its survey of 2,077 small businesses.
The persistently weak U.S. labor market has been in sharp
focus as a key issue holding back the economic recovery.
The government will release its closely watched monthly
payrolls report on Friday. Nonfarm payrolls increased 95,000
last month, according to a Reuters survey, after rising 103,000
Though the estimated gain in nonfarm employment is below
the prior month's count, it is actually an improvement given
that September payrolls were lifted by the return of 45,000
striking Verizon Communications workers.
The jobless rate is seen holding steady at 9.1 percent for
a fourth straight month.
The NFIB survey showed 12 percent of small-business owners
added an average of 3.2 workers over the past few months, while
11 percent reduced employment by an average of 3.6 workers, an
improvement from September.
The remaining 77 percent of owners made no net change in
employment, with just under a third reporting few or no
qualified applicants for positions.
Over the next three months, about 9 percent of
small-business owners plan to hire new workers, down 2
percentage points from September, while 12 percent intend to
reduce their head count. That was unchanged from September.