Small businesses added 55,000 new jobs in December and employees worked longer hours last month, according to figures from Intuit.

Intuit’s monthly Small Business Employment Index found that small business employment grew by 0.3 percent in December, while the number of hours worked and compensation both increased by 0.4 percent.

The index is based on figures from small businesses with fewer than 20 employees that use Intuit Online Payroll. Intuit’s figures indicate that small business employment has continued to grow since the first quarter of 2011. Compensation per employee grew 3.4 percent over the course of the year, giving employees a small gain after adjusting for inflation of about 3.3 percent. Hours worked rose 2.5 percent for the year, while the proportion of hourly people working full time grew to 31 percent, up from 29.7 percent a year ago.

“All of the figures we track show a stronger small business environment in December,” said Susan Woodward, the economist who worked with Intuit to create the index. “Employment, hours worked by non-salaried people, and compensation all rose.” She added that there is also greater volatility in the small business indicators, paralleling, with a slight lag, the recent increased volatility in the stock market.

Based on December’s numbers and revised national employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Intuit revised upward its previously reported growth rate for November to 0.4 percent from 0.3 percent. This equates to 70,000 jobs added in November, up from a previously reported 55,000 jobs.
Small business hourly employees worked an average of 110.3 hours in December, making for a 25.4-hour workweek, according to Intuit. This is a 0.4 percent increase from the revised November figure of 109.9 hours.

Average monthly pay for all small business employees increased to $2,706 in December, a 0.4 percent increase compared to the November revised estimate of $2,695 per month. The equivalent annual wages would be about $32,500 per year, which is part-time work for many small business employees.