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By slightest of margins, N.J. small-business employment outpacing national average

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Small-business employment in New Jersey rose slightly in August, defying a slight drop seen across the country, according to a recent survey of some 200,000 small businesses.

The Intuit Small Business Employment Index found small-business hiring in the state increased by .09 percent in August, compared to a nationwide drop of .01 percent for the month.

That doesn't look like much, said Joseph Seneca, a professor at Rutgers University's Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, but if those hiring trends continue month after month, that could mean good things for small-business employment here.

"This is an encouraging early indicator for what we might see," he said.

Joseph Seneca

Seneca said there was a pause in employment growth in July, with both public- and private-sector jobs falling after a relatively strong showing throughout the winter and spring.

"There was concern with the July decline: Was it a pause, or was it an indication of something more fundamental?" Seneca said. "This could be a signal that, despite what the state has faced with Hurricane Sandy, federal cutbacks, the sequester, the Social Security tax increase, we're still seeing growth in the labor markets."

RELATED: Survey finds optimism among small-business owners at its highest point in five years

Now, he said, "all eyes are going to be very carefully looking at the August (federal jobs) report."

The index also showed that, nationwide, average monthly pay for small business employees increased 0.4 percent from July, climbing to $2,751. Average monthly hours worked also rose 0.6 percent for the month, to around 111.2 hours.

Mary Johnson

Mary Johnson

Mary Johnson is a staff reporter covering midsized and growth companies, as well as women in business. Mary lived in Fla., Texas, Conn. and N.Y. before moving to N.J. with her husband and infant son. Email her at maryj@njbiz.com. She is @mjohns422 on Twitter. Read her blog, Breaking Glass.

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