Small businesses, who employ the bulk of American workers, don't plan to hire additional staff, in another sign the job market is deteriorating again.
The National Federation of Independent Business said Tuesday that confidence among small firms dropped, with its index dipping to 89.5 in March from 90.8 in February.
The share of firms planning to grow employment minus the share planning to shrink it fell to a net 0%, the lowest in a year, from 4% in the prior month.
The survey also found business owners were no more pessimistic on the economy, but the balance of sales expectations swung to -4% from 1%. Small firms also were more inclined to shrink inventories and less inclined to think now is a good time to expand.