Small business owner optimism leapt 20 percent in October, to 53 percent, from a record-low the previous month, according to SurePayroll's monthly Small Business Scorecard. The scorecard includes hiring and wage data for the top 35 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas and surveys national small business owner optimism each month.
For October, the scorecard revealed that on a national level there continues to be flat or decreased hiring for the 13th month in a row, totaling a year-to-date decline in hiring of 2.9 percent. However, the company noted this downward turn is slowing since September. Wages remain down slightly (0.6 percent) for the year.
The survey also found that small business owners have their minds set on long-term growth and indicate that the current administration and presidential candidates should be focusing on putting our fiscal house in order. Other findings from the optimism survey found 51 percent of small business owners report that the most critical issues related to job growth are balancing the budget, reducing the deficit and stabilizing the housing market. In addition, 45 percent think some kind of flat tax would have a positive impact on hiring, and 44 percent think a flat tax would have no impact on hiring; roughly 11 percent thought it could have a negative impact on hiring.
"Optimism is like the fuel that drives small business. With small business optimism taking such a strong upswing, we can be hopeful that hiring and wage trends may follow," said SurePayroll President Michael Alter. "While hiring is down, a closer look at the numbers shows the decline is slowing. And while wages appear flat, they are in fact up just a bit from this time last year. That coupled with rising optimism makes me think next month may be even brighter for small business."
MSA data from the scorecard shows that for the seventh consecutive month, the South remains the only positive hiring region, having experienced minimal month-over-month growth in hiring. In contrast, the Northeast, Midwest and West again continue to show negative month-over-month growth. Year to date, the South is up 0.5 percent, while the other regions are all negative.
The survey also found small business owners continue to rely on contractors to fill their needs versus hiring new employees-contractor use showed a month-over-month increase of 1.3 percent.
SurePayroll's Scorecard compiles data from over 30,000 small businesses, and exclusively reflects the trends affecting the nation's "micro businesses"-those with an average of eight employees.