The average paycheck size at small businesses declined 0.2 percent in July, according to payroll provider SurePayroll.

The SurePayroll Scorecard data showed that month-over-month, hiring was flat in July, the first time since February that hiring has not been negative for the month. Nationwide, however, on a year-over-year basis, hiring was down 1.6 percent while paychecks were down 1.2 percent. The data is based on small business customers of SurePayroll, a subsidiary of Paychex.

In July, optimism among small business owners was 62 percent, a slight improvement from 60 percent last month. The SurePayroll optimism survey also found that among the respondents, 70 percent of small business owners said they would encourage others to go into business for themselves even in the current economic climate.

“Small business owners are optimistic by nature and they know that if you have a good idea you can take advantage of the lower costs in this economy and be successful,” said SurePayroll CEO and President Michael Alter in a statement. “Still, we need more incentives for investors to back startups and less tax burdens on small businesses.”

The South continues to show promising signs, with hiring up 1.3 percent and paychecks rising 0.5 percent. The West has had the steepest hiring decline, at 5.3 percent. Hiring in the Midwest is down 2 percent and paychecks are down 1.8 percent. In the Northeast, hiring is down 1.9 percent and paychecks are down 3.1 percent.

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