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Small Business Hiring Slows In April: NFIB

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(Reuters) - Hiring by small businesses slowed in April, but there was an increase in the number of employers planning to create new jobs and those reporting they could not find qualified workers to fill job openings.

The National Federation of Independent Business said its survey of 1,817 small businesses found that the average number of net employment slipped to 0.1 worker per firm from 0.2 in March.

However, their employment survey showed the share of businesses planning to create new jobs rebounded five points after plunging in March. In addition, the share of owners reporting hard to fill opening rose two points, just below January's three-year high.

"April was another tenuous month for small businesses, sending mixed signals about what the future holds," the NFIB said in a statement.

The survey was published ahead of the release of the government's more comprehensive payroll count on Friday. Nonfarm payrolls likely increased 170,000 in April, according to a Reuters poll, after rising 120,000 in March. The unemployment rate is seen steady at 8.2 percent.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani, Editing by Gary Crosse)

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