Small business hiring is trending is slightly higher, according to payroll provider CBIZ.

CBIZ’s Small Business Employment Index increased by a modest 0.35 percent in November after declining 1.28 percent in October. The survey tracks hiring trends among small companies with 300 or fewer employees.

“The results of the CBIZ Small Business Employment Index for November provided a mild growth in employment, consistent with our expectations that low levels of hiring would take place as we approach the holiday season,” said CBIZ Payroll Services business unit president Philip Noftsinger in a statement.

Of the companies surveyed by CBIZ, 23 percent reported a decrease in employee headcount, while 24 percent increased staffing. In addition, 53 percent of the companies involved in the survey kept the same number of employees.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business Owner's October survey, the outlook for long-term growth in employment among small and independently owned businesses is just slightly above zero, with those small businesses expecting to increase their head count barely outpacing those expecting to decrease head count.

As the holiday season ramps up, CBIZ expects consumer spending will remain a major focus. Growing consumer confidence should provide a minimal, but steady increase in long-term job growth as business owners begin to gain better confidence in the economy.

“The small business owners we’re engaged with still remain cautious because of continued economic concerns; however a slight increase in employee hiring has been traced to the holiday shopping season,” said Noftsinger. “While that may not inspire confidence in terms of future economic growth, those numbers are modestly better than in 2009 and 2010. Our biggest hope for sustained job growth is a robust holiday season and continued growth in capital spending by small businesses.”

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