Small businesses getting more interested in hiring

NEW YORK (AP) — Small business owners are gradually getting interested in hiring again, according to a survey released Thursday.

The survey by the National Federation of Independent Business found that small companies added an average 0.14 workers per firm last month, down slightly from March but the fifth straight monthly gain. Thirteen percent of the 1,873 owners surveyed said they had added an average 3.2 workers per firm during the past few months.

The number of owners who plan to hire in the next three months rose 6 percentage points to 6 percent, the NFIB said. The advocacy group surveys its members on their employment levels and hiring plans each month.

Small business owners have been slow to hire since the recession because they're uncertain about their sales, the economy and the impact on their business of the health care law, which will be fully implemented next year. They also have held off taking on new workers while they wait to see how they might be affected by federal budget cuts that took effect March 1.

Two surveys of small business owners released earlier this week, one by the software maker Intuit and the other by the payroll services provider ADP, also found that small businesses are hiring slowly.

Another reading on small business hiring will come Friday when the Labor Department releases its April employment report.

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