Small businesses in U.S. hire fewer workers in May

40,000 new jobs, down from 60,000 in April: Survey
||Last Updated: 05/30/2012

(Reuters) - Small businesses hired fewer workers in May and cut hours for those on their payrolls, an independent survey showed on Wednesday, raising prospects of another disappointing employment report.

Businesses added 40,000 new jobs, after increasing payrolls by an upwardly revised 60,000 jobs in April, according to Intuit, a payroll processing firm. April's job count was previously reported as 40,000.

The survey's findings contradict expectations of a pickup in job gains in the broader economy this month as the weather-related distortions that held back employment growth in March and April dissipate.

The government's closely monitored employment report due on Friday is expected to show payrolls rose 150,000 in May, according to a Reuters' survey, increasing from April's meager 115,000 jobs. The unemployment rate is seen steady at 8.1 per cent.

The Intuit survey showed the average workweek for small business employees slipped 0.13 per cent in April, leading to a 0.13 per cent or $4 decline in the average monthly pay to $2,692.

But that is equivalent to an annual salary of $32,300, meaning many of the small business employees are working part time.

The Intuit survey is based on responses from about 78,000 small businesses with fewer than 20 employees who use the Intuit Online Payroll system. It covered the period from April 23 to May 23.

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