Hiring at small businesses fell 0.2 percent last month, but paycheck size was up 0.1 percent, according to payroll provider SurePayroll Inc.

The company’s monthly SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard showed small business owners' optimism at 60 percent, a drop from 64 percent the previous month, but up from 33 percent in September. The rise in average paychecks suggests small business owners are relying more on existing workers.

The scorecard optimism survey found 80 percent of respondents expressing concern over turmoil in Europe and slow growth in the U.S.

“While optimism remains relatively high, small business owners seem somewhat reluctant to hire right now because of some dark clouds on the horizon,” said SurePayroll president and CEO Michael Alter in a statement. “Existing employees are producing more and working longer hours. It's impressive that small businesses have done more with less, but the economic climate has made it difficult to have job growth.”

Hiring was down month-over-month in every region of the country except for the South, where it was flat. Paychecks were up month-over-month in the Midwest (0.4 percent) and South (0.3 percent), flat in the West and down in the Northeast (-0.2 percent).

Year-over-year, nationwide hiring is down only 1.6 percent and paychecks are down 1.2 percent. The South continues to show promising signs with hiring up 1.4 percent and paychecks up 0.5 percent. The West has had the steepest hiring decline at 5.4 percent. Hiring in the Midwest is down 2 percent and paychecks are down 2.5 percent. In the Northeast, hiring is down 2.1 percent and paychecks are down 2.7 percent.

For more information, visit www.SurePayroll.com/scorecard.

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