March 5, 2012 / 3:10 PM / 8 years ago

U.S. small businesses add 45,000 jobs in Feb

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. small businesses added 45,000 employees in February and offered workers more money even as working hours were little changed, an independent survey showed on Monday.

However, the increase was a step-back from the upwardly revised 55,000 positions created in January, payrolls processing firm Intuit said. January’s small business employment had previously been reported to have increased 50,000.

The government’s more comprehensive employment report due on Friday is expected to show nonfarm payrolls increased 210,000 last month, according to a Reuters survey, after rising 243,000 in January.

That would mark three straight months of solid job gains. The unemployment rate is seen steady at a three-year low of 8.3 percent.

The Intuit survey is based on responses from about 72,000 small businesses with fewer than 20 employees that use the Intuit Online Payroll system. It covered the period from January 24 to February 23.

The average monthly salary for small business employees rose 0.2 percent, or $4, to $2,682 in February. The average workweek was little changed at 25 hours.

Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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