Report confirms slower hiring pace at small firms

SMALL BUSINESS HIRING SLOWS: U.S. small businesses added 71,000 new jobs in August, but the pace of hiring has slowed, according to a survey released Thursday by payroll company ADP. Small businesses added 81,000 jobs in June and 78,000 in July.

August's gain was predominantly from service companies, which added 69,000 jobs. The smallest of businesses did more hiring. Companies with fewer than 20 employees added 40,000 jobs and those with 20 to 49 employees added 31,000 jobs.

IT ALL ADDS UP: ADP's results back trends in other small business hiring reports that were released this week.

Business software maker Intuit Inc. found that employment at U.S. small businesses fell 0.01 percent in August. The National Federation of Independent Business survey of its members found that there was a decline in employment averaging 0.3 workers per firm. However, the NFIB report said that brighter skies may be ahead as 15 percent of business owners say they plan to increase employment in the future.

NEXT UP: The Labor Department will release its jobs report for August on Friday. Economists forecast that the August jobs report will show that employers added 177,000 jobs, up from 162,000 in July. The unemployment rate is expected to remain 7.4 percent.

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