WASHINGTON Nov 6 U.S. small businesses stepped
up hiring in October, despite uncertainty brought by a partial
shutdown of the federal government, a survey showed on
The National Federation of Independent Business said small
business owners added an average of 0.11 workers per firm last
month, reversing September's decline.
"In spite of the government shut-down, employment rose among
small firms in October," the NFIB said in a statement.
The increase in hiring by small businesses is an encouraging
sign for the economy amid estimates that the 16-day government
shutdown could have sliced off as much as 0.6 percentage point
from fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
The NFIB's findings come ahead of the release on Friday of
the government's comprehensive employment report for October,
which is expected to show that the shutdown held back hiring.
Non-farm payrolls are forecast to have risen by only 125,000
jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey of economists,
down from an increase of 148,000 in September.
The NFIB survey found that 12 percent of small business
owners throughout the country added an average of 3.5 workers
per firm over the past few months. That was a slight improvement
from prior periods.
About nine percent of businesses, the smallest share since
2006, reported laying off an average of 2.8 workers.
"Reports of workforce reductions have reached sub-normal
levels. But owners report sub-par levels of hiring, so job
growth remains anemic," the NFIB said.
There was a slight increase in the share of business owners
reporting hard-to-fill job openings. There was also a modest
increase in the number of employers hiring temporary workers.
Temporary employment is seen as a harbinger of future hiring,
but could also indicate reluctance by employers to take on
full-time workers because of uncertainty related to health care
regulations and the economic outlook.