Small business employment continued to show growth in November, according to a payroll report by Intuit, although wages were down and hours worked remained flat.

Those were among the results of this month’s update of Intuit's Small Business Employment Index. The monthly report found that small business employment grew by 0.24 percent in November, equating to an annual rate of about 3 percent. This translates to approximately 49,000 new jobs created nationwide. The index is based on figures from the country’s smallest businesses that use Intuit Online Payroll.

“The recovery that began late last summer for small businesses is still underway,” said Susan Woodward, the economist who worked with Intuit to create the Index. “While employment at the national level for all businesses is barely rising, small businesses are showing a more robust increase. This is in line with what we’ve seen with past recessions — small businesses are the first to hire when recovery begins.”

Based on this latest data, the employment growth rate for October was revised upward to 0.26 percent, equating to 51,000 jobs added for the month and a 3 percent annual growth rate. Since the growth trend first began in October 2009, small business jobs have increased by a revised estimate of 670,000.

Total compensation per employee fell in November while hours worked were flat, compared to October.

Average monthly pay for all small business employees was $2,592 per month in November, a 0.3 percent decline from the revised October figure of $2,600 per month. This translates to wages of about $31,100 per year, which is part-time work for many small business employees. 

“Compensation in small businesses has been down slightly over the last six months,” said Woodward. “Small businesses are hiring at a disproportionate rate right now compared to big businesses and are taking advantage of the soft labor market in a way that big businesses are not.”

Small business hourly employees worked an average of 105.9 hours in November, translating to a 24.4-hour work week. Hours worked remained flat for November following a sharp rise in hours worked in October.

“It’s good to see that hours worked are still high despite a relatively strong rise in employment,” added Woodward. “This means that small businesses are busy. Even though they are hiring more people, they haven’t reduced the hours of their hourly employees.”

The Intuit Index also breaks down employment by census divisions and states across the country.

“The West North Central division continued to see job losses while all other divisions continued to show employment growth,” said Cameron Schmidt, vice president of Intuit’s Employee Management Solutions division, in a statement. “It’s also good to see that states like Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia all have strong increases in employment.”

According to ADP, whuich released its November payroll figures on Wednesday, employment among small businesses, defined as those with fewer than 50 workers, increased by 54,000. Like Intuit, ADP bases its employment report on its own payroll customers.

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