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The Economy This Week

Small businesses create more new jobs; soaring gas prices begin to retreat.
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Despite rising wages, small employers in the service sector continued to drive employment gains last month. Here's a look at this week's economic developments and how they may affect your business.

Employment Up
Led by small and midsize businesses, U.S. private-sector employers hired 189,000 new workers in November, ADP reported Wednesday.

Small businesses accounted for 77,000 of all new jobs last month, nearly all of which were in the service sector. Midsize businesses added 82,000 jobs, while larger companies added just 30,000. The gains included jobs in manufacturing, construction and financial services, which have seen weak payroll growth in recent months.

"Small businesses continued to hire at an increasing rate," said Joel Prakken, the chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, which prepares ADP's monthly employment reports. Up until last month, small businesses had led private-sector employment gains this year, Prakken said.

Productivity, Wages Rise
Worker productivity over the third quarter rose by the fastest pace in four years, increasing by 6.3 percent, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.

At the same time, labor costs dropped by 2 percent, though hourly wages rose by 4.2 percent from the previous quarter.

Worker productivity is measured by the amount of output per hour for all employees.

A separate report by the Commerce Department on Wednesday showed factory orders rose by 0.5 percent in October to $423.5 billion, up from 0.3 percent in September.

Gas Prices Fall
The average retail price for gas dropped by 3.6 cents last week to $3.061, the third straight week of declines, the Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday.

Despite the declines, which were reported in every region, gas prices remain 76.4 cents higher than at the same time last year, the report said.

Last updated: Dec 6, 2007




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