CBIZ’s Small Business Employment Index increased sharply in December, the largest jump in two years.

The company’s index for hiring trends among companies with 300 or fewer employees for whom it provides payroll services increased 1.75 percent in December, after increasing 0.35 percent in November.

“This represents the largest increase in the index in two years as December 2009 offered a similar tally of 1.77 percent,” said CBIZ Payroll Services business unit president Philip Noftsinger in a statement. “Additionally, the positive movement in the index supports a continued improving trend in labor markets.”

Of the companies surveyed by CBIZ, 19 percent reported a decrease in employee headcount, while 30 percent increased their head count. Fifty-one percent of the companies surveyed maintained their number of employees.

Confidence among small business owners is on the rise, with a sustained focus on demand and cost containment. If demand can continue to grow, even minimally, for Main Street employers, CBIZ anticipates continued positive growth numbers in the index.

"We need to continue to see positive, or at least fair global macro news through the first quarter, otherwise the latest trend may not last through June 2012," said Noftsinger.

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