Professional services firm CBIZ said it has seen signs of a slowdown in small business hiring, based on figures from its payroll unit.

The monthly CBIZ Small Business Employment Index increased by only 0.22 percent in May, after posting an increase of 1.35 percent in April. The index provides a barometer for hiring trends among companies with 300 or fewer employees.

Of the companies that were surveyed, the data shows that 23 percent increased employee headcount while 23.5 percent reported a decrease in staffing, and 53.5 percent of the companies involved in the survey maintained their number of employees.

As shown in last Friday’s report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the small business sector, which historically leads to longer-term economic growth, continues to struggle and has yet to show sustained additions.  

“Labor reports continue to produce results that demonstrate a struggling marketplace,” said CBIZ Payroll Services business unit president Philip Noftsinger in a statement. “The SBEI numbers for May represent a no-change result, giving pause to those overly optimistic that an accelerating recovery is close at hand. As the season changes to summer, we will watch closely to see if increased consumer spending can add fuel to the labor market and accelerate the recovery.”

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