Small business employment continued to show growth in December with hours worked up and wages flat, according to the latest update of the Intuit Inc. Small Business Employment Index.

The monthly report found that small business employment grew by 0.3 percent in December, equating to an annual growth rate of about 3.4 percent. This translates to approximately 57,000 new jobs created nationwide. The Index is based on figures from the country’s smallest businesses that use Intuit Online Payroll.

“Small business is still the most vigorous sector of the employment picture,” said Susan Woodward, the economist who worked with Intuit to create the Index. “We generally see a rise in employment for all businesses in December, but this year it is unusually strong. We can hardly see the recovery in overall national employment, but among small businesses, the recovery, albeit slow, is unambiguous.”

Total compensation per employee was flat in December while hours worked were up, compared to November. Average monthly pay for all small business employees was $2,607 per month in December, a nearly 0.1 percent decline, which is considered flat, from the revised November figure of $2,609 per month. This translates to wages of about $31,300 per year, which is part-time work for many small business employees.

“The weakness of the overall employment picture is still reflected in small business compensation,” said Woodward. “Though small businesses are hiring and asking their people to work longer hours, they don’t have to pay more to get people. While compensation is flat, these numbers don’t mean that people didn’t get overtime and bonuses in December – they did. But on a seasonal and trend adjusted basis, compensation is not up.”

In addition, the Intuit Index showed small business employment is up for many states across the country with the highest month-over-month boosts in Maryland and Washington, which posted increases of 0.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

The states that comprise the Index reflect those for which Intuit Online Payroll has more than 1,000 small business firms represented. The month-to-month changes are seasonally adjusted and informative about the overall economy.

The Intuit Small Business Employment Index is based on aggregate and anonymous online employment data from nearly 60,000 small business employers, each with fewer than 20 employees.

More information is available at http://payroll.intuit.com/employment_index/.