Paychex reported Monday that the pace of small business hiring slowed down somewhat in August, continuing a trend in recent months.

Although the Paychex | IHS Small Business Jobs Index grew 0.20 percent in the past 12 months through August, the national index calculated Paychex and its partner, the research firm IHS, decreased to 100.99, as the pace of small business employment growth slowed slightly. August marked the third decline for the index in the past four months.

“The index continues to show positive, long-term gains,” said Paychex president and CEO Martin Mucci in a statement. “However, that growth has slowed in the past several months.”

The August 2014 Paychex | IHS Small Business Jobs Index fell 0.11 percent from last month as the pace of employment growth slowed slightly. The record employment growth rate set in April 2014 has declined three of the past four months.

There was strong employment growth among small businesses in the Mountain states, propelling the Mountain region into the lead among regions. Wisconsin surpassed Washington, taking over as the top-performing state. Among the various metropolitan areas, Dallas continued to hold the top spot, for the third consecutive month.

The Mountain and East South Central regions showed monthly gains in August, increasing 0.41 percent and 0.60 percent, respectively. Consistently showing the best 12-month growth rate during 2014, the Mountain region climbed three spots to the top of the regional index at 102.14.

With the strongest one-month gain at 0.39 percent, Wisconsin rose to the top of the state index in August. Twelve-month gains for Wisconsin were positive as well. In contrast, New Jersey was near the bottom for all indicators and has been among the weakest in total job growth this year, according to Paychex and IHS’s data. Having declined 2.12 percent over the past 12 months, New Jersey remained at the second lowest index level.

On the positive side, Dallas led the metro index for the third straight month, hitting 103.80 in August. Texas cities have led the nation’s large metros in total job growth this year. Tampa Bay showed a rapid acceleration rate, gaining 0.99 percent during the past three months, though its index value remains below 100.

“Although the Paychex | IHS Small Business Jobs Index continues to show positive year-over-year growth, the short-term trend has declined 0.16 percent in the past three months,” said James Diffley, chief regional economist at IHS. “As most other employment indicators accelerated over the summer, it appears that small businesses may have been on the front end of that trend, in the spring, with the index reaching its peak level in April 2014.”

The Paychex | IHS Small Business Jobs Index analyzes same-store, year-over-year worker count changes to identify and track small business employment trends using payroll data from the Paychex client base. The index is based on aggregated data from approximately 350,000 small businesses with fewer than 50 workers across the U.S.

To view an infographic of the data, click here.