Small-Business Hiring Falls For Third Month Straight

A new report showed small-business hiring slid for the third month in a row.
October 04, 2012

Just after the Presidential candidates jockeyed for the title of who’s the biggest champion of small business (and, of course, the title of winner of the debate), a new report shows small-business hiring slid for the third month in a row.

The National Federation of Independent Business, a conservative-leaning trade group, said the net change in employment per firm dipped 0.23 in September. It slipped 0.05 in August.

"It isn't any wonder that small firms are not hiring," says William Dunkelberg, the NFIB's chief economist. "Given the tenuous political and economic atmosphere, owners are right to remain pessimistic about the future. They have been given little reason to increase their employment rolls.

The numbers came the morning after Republican candidate Mitt Romney suggested entrepreneurship declined during the Barack Obama years, and Obama reminded viewers he reduced taxes on small businesses 18 times. (A Washington Post poll showed small business voters in swing states awarded debate victory to Romney. The majority of pundits agreed.) 

The NFIB report, which suggests more jobs were cut than added, offers a slightly different picture than the one offered by the Intuit Small Business Indexes released earlier this week. The indexes—based on online employment from some 70,000 U.S. small businesses—showed that small firms created some 40,000 jobs in September, or slightly more than they did the previous month.

Both the NFIB and Intuit reports came ahead of the U.S. Department of Labor’s official job numbers, which are set to be released Friday.

Meanwhile, another survey suggests small business jobs numbers won’t be improving drastically anytime soon. A PNC Bank survey of some 1,700 small businesses showed just 23 percent of small businesses expected to add new employees in the next six months—a significant dip from the 28 percent who’d forecasted doing so last spring.

Just 46 percent of small firms expected their sales to increase in the next six months—down from the 58 percent who’d made the same prediction last spring.

Not surprisingly, they also expected lower profits—just over a third (38 percent) predicted an increase, compared to 43 percent in the spring.

“The pace of the U.S. economic and jobs recovery remains disappointing," Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC, told Dow Jones. "Despite significant headwinds like the deepening recession in Europe and impending 'fiscal cliff,' the hiring plans and business outlook reflected in this survey are just enough to keep the modest recovery persistent into 2013."

photos: Getty Images