Employees of U.S. small businesses saw their average paychecks rise for the first time this year, according to online payroll provider SurePayroll.

The July 2014 edition of the SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard indicated that the average paycheck rose 0.2 percent in July, after being flat or down throughout 2014.

The average paycheck increase comes on the heels of a profitable first half of the year for small businesses. The Scorecard optimism survey found in June that 62 percent of small businesses were profitable in the first half. Close to seven in 10 (68 percent) also say they're optimistic about the small business economy.

“Small business owners have done a great job maximizing their resources ever since the recession, and as they reap the profits from that, it appears they're starting to reward employees with some extra cash,” said SurePayroll general manager Andy Roe in a statement.

SurePayroll’s former president and CEO, Michael Alter, departed in May to become CEO of Tie Bar, a necktie retailer based in Chicago.

Small businesses have used a variety of tactics to strengthen themselves since the recession, according to the latest optimism survey by SurePayroll, a wholly owned subsidiary of Paychex. The top tactics that small business owners said were most important included increased marketing efforts, key hires, a leaner staff, using technology to streamline business and save cash, and planning around an environment of slow growth.

“Ultimately, what we want to see for the economy is more hiring, more growth and more people spending on Main Street,” said Roe. “In the meantime, it’s encouraging to see the boost in the average paycheck, whether that's from more opportunities for overtime, bonuses or raises.”

After being flat in June, hiring slipped 0.2 percent in July nationwide. Regionally, it was flat in South; down 0.4 percent in Midwest and Northeast; and down 0.1 percent in the West. The average paycheck was up across the board regionally: 0.4 percent in the Midwest; 0.2 percent in the South; and 0.1 percent in the Northeast and West. The percentage of independent contractors working for small businesses nationwide grew 0.02 percent to 6.59 percent.

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