CBIZ found that small business employment continued to rise in April.

The CBIZ Small Business Employment Index increased by 1.35 percent for the month after posting an increase of 0.69 percent in March. The index currently shows the highest hiring gain yet in 2011.

“Despite some disappointing GDP news from the first quarter and a recent increase in weekly jobless claims, the index continues to show positive job growth for the third consecutive month,” said Philip Noftsinger, business unit president for CBIZ Payroll Services. “This month’s results show a stronger growth factor than the results in the prior two periods, indicating there may be less volatility in the small business marketplace.”

Of the companies that were surveyed, the data shows that 26.9 percent increased employee headcount while 53.2 percent maintained the number of employees, and19.9 percent of the companies surveyed reported a decrease in their employment patterns. 

From February to April, the study shows that fewer employers are reducing their workforce and, instead, hiring or maintaining the current staff. Index results from March to April show a 1.3 percent decrease in employee reduction.

However, as gas prices continue to rise, the resulting impact may inhibit future growth.

“It will be important to see if recent world events, as well as sluggish economic indicators from the first quarter, reverse the employment trend among smaller employers,” Noftsinger warned. “It remains our opinion that smaller employers are dialed in to short-term demand and engaging larger workforces based primarily upon that factor.”

Currently, CBIZ Payroll Services manages payroll services for more than 3,000 businesses that employ fewer than 300 people. The sample reflects a broad array of industries and geographies corresponding to the markets across the United States where CBIZ provides services.

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