Survey shows slim gain in small-business hiring

UPTICK IN HIRING: Small businesses that are members of the National Federation of Independent Business hired modestly in October, adding an average of 0.11 workers per company. The advocacy group, which surveyed 1,940 of its members, said 12 percent of the owners said they had hired an average of 3.5 workers over the past few months. That's up 1 percentage point from September's survey.

THE TREND: Hiring at small businesses has fluctuated this year, but the monthly changes reported by the NFIB have been small. Nearly 80 percent of the owners in the group's latest survey said they've made no changes in employment in recent months. That fits with other surveys that have showed mostly modest increases in small-business employment.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Labor Department will issue its report on October employment on Friday. Although the government does not break out its figures according to company size, more than 99 percent of U.S. businesses are small. So the report will provide more evidence of small businesses' willingness to expand and take on new staffers.

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