Recent employment figures provided by a prominent small business trade organization bolstered the notion that small business continues to drive the employment market, and also suggested improvement of the nation’s economy on the whole.

A survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses showed that small business hiring reached an 8-year peak in December. Reuters’ Lucia Mutikani reported Jan. 8 on an NFIB report that showed an average job gain of 0.24 per small business last month, the highest total since February 2006.

The NFIB’s nationwide survey of 635 small businesses also found that 14 percent of the owners added an average of 3.4 employees in recent months, compared to 10 percent that laid off an average 1.8 workers in the same time period. No net job gains were reported by the other 76 percent of businesses contacted.

The survey coincides with a report from payroll processor ADP showing 238,000 new jobs added by private employers of all sizes in December, up from 229,000 reported in November.

“Job creation is slowly moving in a positive direction,” an NFIB said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

According to Reuters, the NFIB is also reporting another twist in small business hiring: an increasing struggle to find qualified workers. The organization’s found that one quarter of the firms surveyed — the highest number since January 2008 — said they could not fill the job openings they had.

“The ability to find qualified applicants for available jobs continues to plague the small-business community,” the NFIB said, according to Reuters. “Forty-eight percent of owners hired or tried to hire in the last three months and 38 percent reported few or no qualified applicants for open positions.”

Additionally, 14 percent of employers reported turning to temporary help in December, according to the NFIB, a one percent increase from November.

The NFIB survey results and the ADP report arrived just before the release of December’s overall job figures by the U.S. Department of Labor. It is expected to show a slight retreat in jobs added to the economy. Economists surveyed by Reuters predicted that the labor market picked up 196,000 additional non-farm jobs in December, a slight decrease from the 203,000 jobs added in November.


Reuters, “U.S. Small Business Hiring Stands at Nearly Eight-Year High“. 1/8/14.