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The Economy This Week

Small business employment growth eases; housing market shows signs of stability.
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Small business payrolls grew at a slower pace last month, while larger companies continued to shed jobs. Here's a look at this week's economic developments and how they may affect your business.

Job Growth Slows
Amid payroll losses at larger companies, the nation's small businesses continued to add new jobs in February, ADP reported Wednesday.

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees created 15,000 jobs last month, the smallest monthly employment gains at small businesses in more than five years, according to the Roseland, N.J.-based business services firm. By contrast, larger companies shed 38,000 jobs in February, pushing total private-sector employment down by 23,000.

Job gains at small businesses in the service sector were offset by ongoing cuts in the goods-producing sector, the report said.

Home Sales Steady
Pending home sales in January held steady from December, but were down 19.6 percent from a year ago, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday.

Based on contracts signed in January, pending home sales rose in both the West and Midwest, while declining in all other regions.

According to the trade group, existing-home sales are expected to remain flat in the months ahead before improving over the second half of the year. At the same time, median prices are forecast to drop by 1.2 percent to $216,300.

Lawrence Yun, the trade group's chief economist, said higher loan limits will help boost home sales later this year.

On Monday, the Commerce Department reported a three percent decline in private residential construction spending in January.

Jobless Claims Fall
The number of new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 24,000 this week to 351,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate the previous week held steady at 2.1 percent, reflecting 2.831 million people filing jobless claims.

The biggest declines in new claims last week were in North Carolina, Indiana and Washington, while gains were reported in Massachusetts, California and Connecticut.

Last updated: Mar 6, 2008




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