Employment at small businesses in the U.S. increased in December, although the amount of compensation and the number of hours worked indicated slight declines, according to figures from QuickBooks maker Intuit.

Small business employers added 20,000 jobs in December, for a cumulative total of more than 555,000 jobs since March 2010, according to Intuit. Overall, small business revenues declined 0.19 percent in November.

The December data marked the second consecutive month of resumed job growth, after the stall from May through October. Figures from Intuit’s Small Business Employment and Revenue Indexes also indicate that employment increased 0.09 percent, for a gain of 20,000 jobs in December. However, average monthly compensation fell 0.05 percent in December, a decrease of $1 from November.

Average monthly hours worked by hourly employees also declined, by 0.16 percent, in December, a decrease of approximately 12 minutes from November.

The employment index is based on data from Intuit Online Payroll and QuickBooks Online Payroll, covering the period from Nov. 24 through Dec. 23, 2013.

“After no progress from May through October, small business employment has now resumed its slow rise for the second month in a row,” said Susan Woodward, the economist who works with Intuit to create the indexes. “For December, the growth rate is about one-tenth of 1 percent, for an annualized rate of just over 1 percent. Small business employment continues to recover even more slowly than overall employment. The recovery for non-farm payroll employment is just under 6 percent from the trough in February 2010, while the employment recovery for private payroll, not including government, is a bit over 7 percent. By comparison, small business recovery is only 2.8 percent for the same period.”

Hours Worked and Monthly Pay Decline
Hourly employees worked an average of 107.2 hours in December, a 12-minute decrease from November’s figure of 107.4 hours, making for a 24.7-hour work week, according to Intuit.

Average monthly pay for small business employees fell to $2,694 in December, down slightly from $2,695 in November. The equivalent yearly wages would be about $32,300. This average includes wages that small business owners pay to themselves.

“The hourly wage for hourly small business employees nudged up five cents an hour to $15.92 per hour,” said Woodward. “This is 2 percent above the average hourly wage from a year ago, for the hourly employees of Intuit's online payroll customers.”

Small business employment showed increases in nearly all of the 38 states tracked by Intuit’s Small Business Employment Index. Only six states exhibited employment declines, while two remained flat. Washington showed the largest employment increase, at 0.3 percent. The largest decline was in Michigan at 0.18 percent.

By census division, the East North Central region, which includes Michigan, indicated the largest decline at 0.03 percent. The only other region to see a slight decline was New England at 0.1 percent. The rest of the country showed employment gains, led by the Pacific region.

Small Business Revenues Continue to Decline
The November revenue index showed overall small business revenue decreased 0.19 percent, on a per-business basis. Per sector, all industries saw revenue declines except for the construction sector and the “other services” sector, which covers nonprofessional services.

The real estate services industry experienced the biggest decline at 0.6 percent. The professional services industry followed, dropping 0.5 percent. The construction industry showed the larger increase of 0.6 percent, while other services grew 0.2 percent.

This index is based on data from QuickBooks Online, covering the period from Nov. 1 to 30, 2013.

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