Small Business Isn’t Cheered Up

Small businesses haven’t switched into hiring mode, according to October data from SurePayroll, a provider of online payroll to small businesses.

According to SurePayroll’s Small Business Scorecard survey, month over month hiring in October was down 0.1% and the average paycheck also declined by 0.2%. Optimism on the part of small business owners returned to 68% in October, close to where it’s been all year long, according to the survey. SurePayroll has been provided a monthly look at hiring and paycheck trends since September of 2004, and compiles data from more than 40,000 small businesses.

The last year has been a tumultuous one for small business owners, which had to contend with a tough economy, natural disasters, record unemployment and the presidential race. Because of all the uncertainty small business owners have been sitting on the sidelines when it comes to hiring, waiting until there is more clarity to act.

“The small business community isn’t placing any bets right now and it’s no wonder in this uncertain economic environment -- uncertainty often leads to inaction,” said SurePayroll CEO and President Michael Alter in a press release ahead of Tuesday’s presidential election. “Hopefully the election results will provide enough clarity around future fiscal and government policies which will spur small business to play their hiring and investment cards.”

The Scorecard survey, which checks in with small business owners across the country each month, asked about plans for hiring in the fourth quarter and found that two-thirds will not hire or increase wages for permanent employees. According to SurePayroll, the responses in October echo previous surveys where small business owners have said they’ve overcome the uncertainty buy doing more with less.

While hiring was down 0.1% in October (compared to September), and the average paycheck declined 0.2%, there were some bright spots: the South and the Midwest. According to the survey hiring in the South was up 0.3% in October, and paychecks increased 0.3% in the Midwest.

On a year-over-year basis, nationwide hiring is down 1.5% and paychecks are down 1.3%, according to SurePayroll. Just like in October, throughout the year the South has been increasing its hiring, with it up 1.4% year-over-year. So far this year the West has been hit the hardest, with hiring down 4.9%, according to SurePayroll.  Hiring in the Midwest is down 2.2% for the year, the same as the Northeast.