The February CBIZ Small Business Employment Index, a barometer for hiring trends among companies with 300 or fewer employees, increased by 0.25 percent through the month, after posting a decrease of 2.62 percent in January, almost a 3 percent upswing in net month over month hiring.

“This month’s data shows a move back to positive hiring trends, after what we believed to be a seasonal decline in January,” said Philip Noftsinger, business unit president for CBIZ Payroll Services. “While the number isn't as high as we would like to see, it is representative of where we believe the cautious small business employer is as it relates to hiring. As we continue to move into 2011, the small business owner will continue to carefully watch demand factors and the overall economy to gauge whether the long-term investment in human resources is a safe bet.”

The CBIZ Index focuses on hiring trends at small companies that use CBIZ Payroll services. The data shows that 24.7 percent of the companies surveyed increased their payroll, while an additional 52.5 percent maintained headcount.   hile some might cheer any increase in hiring, and a gain against the high unemployment rate, additional layoffs at the federal level are likely coming in the months ahead as cost-cutting efforts are expected to begin in order to control the national deficit.

“At present, small business owners are hesitant to take large risks as they continue to gauge needs of their customers, monitor big business activity in their backyards and what is to come next in terms of tax and healthcare policies,” Noftsinger added.

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