The majority of small businesses are expecting to finish the year with a profit, according to a new survey by the payroll service provider SurePayroll.

The September edition of the SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard found that 81 percent of the small businesses serviced by the company (with primarily one to 10 employees) expect to have a profitable second half of the year, up from 77 percent in June.

In addition, 73 percent of the small business owners surveyed were optimistic about the small business economy, while three in four small businesses indicated they either met or exceeded their expectations for the third quarter. Slightly more than half said their third quarter results were better than last year’s. Fifty percent plan to make investments in their businesses in the fourth quarter, up from just 44 percent at this time last year.

“The businesses that we work with are your mom and pop shops, your really tight-knit operations with just two or three employees, and a really high number of them have worked their way into profitability,” said SurePayroll general manager Andy Roe in a statement. “We’ll look to see more investment from business owners in staff, marketing and technology, as well as new equipment and even office space for some.”

The average paycheck ticked up 0.1 percent, according to the SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard, while hiring dropped 0.1 percent after being up in August. The percentage of workers who received 1099 forms who were hired for full-time jobs also leveled off at 6.6 percent after rising the last three months.

On a regional level in September, hiring was up 0.1 percent month over month in both the South and Western parts of the country. In the Midwest, hiring was down 0.3 percent and in the Northeast it was down 0.2 percent. The average paycheck was up 0.7 percent in the South, flat in the Midwest, and down 0.1 percent in the Northeast and 0.4 percent in the West.

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