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Small Business Employment Slightly Rebounds

The CBIZ Small Business Employment Index (SBEI), a barometer for hiring trends among companies with 300 or fewer employees, increased by .25 percent during February, following a decrease of 2.75 percent in January. The small business sector of the economy continues to attract headline coverage as our leadership and political and economic pundits continue to stress that the small business owner is the driving force of the economy. The SBEI is focused on this part of our economy and is a critical component to understanding economic activity in this small private sector.

Today’s announcement follows ADP’s February jobs survey, which illustrated that the private sector added 216,000 jobs last month. Currently, CBIZ Payroll Services manages payroll services for more than 3,000 businesses that employ fewer than 300 people. The sample reflects a broad array of industries and geographies corresponding to the markets across the United States where CBIZ provides services.

Philip Noftsinger, business unit president for CBIZ Payroll Services, explained, “The CBIZ Small Business Employment Index reported a .25 percent gain in February, in line with positive reports from other sources. February’s gain, although slight, is an important one in that it is a positive sign that employment gains in the small business sector are holding outside the holiday shopping season.”

Additional take-away points from the February data include:

  • At-a-glance: Of the companies surveyed, the data shows that 22 percent reported a decrease in employee headcount while 24 percent increased staffing. 54 percent of the companies involved in the survey maintained their number of employees.
  • Small business sector: Other reports of anecdotal nature are reporting consistent information that shows small business improving their employment numbers, but only slightly and only as demand dictates.
  • What-to-watch: Sustained gains will be important for future growth, so look to March and April to demonstrate a trend in the SBEI. Consumer confidence will continue to play a direct role on the road to recovery.

“February’s gain, although slight, is an important one in that it is a positive sign that employment gains in the small business sector are holding outside the holiday shopping season. Other reports of an anecdotal nature are reporting consistent information showing small business improving their employment numbers, but only slightly and only as demand dictates. The February report from the National Federation of Independent Business shows that poor sales are still the number one problem for small businesses, although the gap between sales and other concerns has narrowed over the past 12 months. That narrowing indicates that demand is increasing for small business goods and services, which is contributing to the mild to modest gains in employment,” said Noftsinger.

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