Small Businesses' Monthly Wages Rise, but Employment Remains Flat

Small-business employment increased in 23 of the 39 states tracked by Intuit's Small Business Employment Index, but remained flat overall.

Small-business employment remained flat in March for the second consecutive month while average hours worked and monthly wages both increased, according to the findings of the monthly Intuit Small Business Employment and Revenue Indexes.

Employees' average monthly compensation grew 0.4 percent in March, an increase of $9 from February's revised figure while average monthly hours worked by hourly employees grew 0.2 percent in March, an increase of approximately 18 minutes from February's revised figure.

"Small businesses are continuing to hire, but the rate of new hires remains low--close to the level it fell to in June 2009," said Susan Woodward, the economist who works with Intuit to create the indexes. "However, the number of employees leaving jobs or being laid off offsets the rate of hiring. Thus, employment levels remained flat for the second consecutive month."

Hourly small-business employees worked an average of 108.8 hours in March, which translates to an 18-minute increase from February's figure of 108.5 hours, making for a 25-hour workweek, the report found.

Small-business employment increased in 23 of the 39 states tracked by Intuit's Small Business Employment Index. Kentucky continued to show the strongest state employment growth, at 0.3 percent.

Fourteen states showed employment declines, while two remained flat. Missouri and Idaho recorded the largest declines for the second consecutive month, at 0.4 and 0.3 percent.

"Employment losses in March were concentrated in states suffering from the cold weather, especially in the upper Midwest and Mountain States. The silver lining is that nationally, small-business employers are giving more hours to their existing employees, an increase of 0.2 percent from the previous month," Woodward continued. "This is the highest it's been since January 2013."

The February Revenue Index showed overall small business revenue decreased 0.15 percent on a per-business basis.

Only the businesses in the construction and "other services" categories of Intuit's index registered revenue gains while the majority reported declines. The "other services" category includes non-professional services, such as auto repair and gardening services.

"Over the last year, small business revenue has grown by 2.3 percent on a per-business basis, which is faster than the national rate of inflation," Woodward said. "Revenue for all industry sectors has grown, with the exception of real estate services."

The Employment Index is based on anonymous, non-identifiable aggregated data from approximately 200,000 small business employers, a subset of users that use the company's Online Payroll and QuickBooks Online Payroll platforms.