Superstorm Sandy further weakened hiring at small businesses in November, according to a survey released Thursday.
The survey by the National Federation of Independent Business shows that nationwide, the number of workers in small businesses fell by 0.04 workers last month. In October, the number rose by 0.02 workers.
NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg called Sandy's impact on hiring "substantial." The Oct. 29 storm shut down thousands of small businesses along the East Coast, and a large number of companies are still closed and have laid off workers. Moreover many residents have suffered heavy damage to their homes and aren't spending money at businesses in their communities.
The results are in line with a report Wednesday from payroll services company ADP. It said small businesses hired 19,000 workers last month, the smallest amount this year.
Business owners have been reluctant to hire this year because of the uncertain economy and because they were anxious about the results of the November election. Now many are waiting to see the outcome of negotiations in Congress on what's called the "fiscal cliff," the combination of tax increases and budget cuts scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
On Friday the Labor Department reports on hiring in November. Although the government does not detail the number of jobs created at small businesses, most of the employers in the country are small. So the numbers will reflect the trend at those companies.
A small piece of good news in the NFIB survey was a 1 percentage point increase in the number of businesses planning to hire. But only 5 percent had such plans.
The NFIB, which lobbies on behalf of small businesses, questioned 733 of its members.