CBIZ is reporting a slight increase in hiring at small businesses in February.

The accounting and professional services firm’s Small Business Employment Index, which tracks hiring trends of companies with 300 or fewer employees using CBIZ’s payroll services, increased by 0.25 percent in February, after sliding 2.75 percent in January, the company reported last Friday.

Of the companies surveyed, 22 percent reported a decrease in employee headcount while 24 percent increased staffing. Fifty-four percent of the companies surveyed maintained their number of employees.

Another payroll provider, ADP, reported last week that the private sector added 216,000 jobs in February, 108,000 of them at small businesses with less than 50 employees (see ADP Finds Private Sector Added 216,000 Jobs in February). Intuit reported small business hiring increasing slightly by 0.2 percent among small businesses with fewer than 20 employees using Intuit Online Payroll (see Intuit Sees Job Creation Slowing at Small Businesses). The official figures, reported last Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed a gain of 227,000 jobs across the private and public sectors in February (see Employers Added 227,000 Jobs in February).

“The CBIZ Small Business Employment Index reported a 0.25 percent gain in February, in line with positive reports from other sources,” said CBIZ Payroll Services business unit president Philip Noftsinger in a statement. “February’s gain, although slight, is an important one in that it is a positive sign that employment gains in the small business sector are holding outside the holiday shopping season.”

CBIZ noted that other reports of an anecdotal nature are reporting consistent information indicating that small businesses are improving their employment numbers, but only slightly and only as demand dictates. Sustained gains will be important for future growth, and consumer confidence will continue to play a direct role in the months ahead for economic recovery.

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