The average paycheck size at small businesses declined 0.2 percent in October, while month-over-month hiring also fell 0.1 percent, according to payroll provider SurePayroll.

The company’s latest Small Business Scorecard indicated that small business owners' optimism returned to 68 percent, close to where it had hovered for most of the year.

“The small business community isn’t placing any bets right now and it’s no wonder in this uncertain economic environment -- uncertainty often leads to inaction,” said SurePayroll CEO and president Michael Alter in a statement. “Hopefully the election results will provide enough clarity around future fiscal and government policies which will spur small business to play their hiring and investment cards.”

SurePayroll’s survey asked small business owners across the country about their plans for fourth-quarter hiring. Overall, two-thirds of small business owners indicated that they would not hire or increase wages for permanent employees. 

“The survey responses echo previous surveys showing that small business owners have learned to overcome these uncertain times by doing more with less and thus productivity has outpaced growth,” said Alter.

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

Year-over-year, nationwide hiring is down only 1.5 percent and paychecks are down 1.3 percent, SurePayroll reported. The South continues to show promising signs, with hiring up 1.4 percent and paychecks down 0.8 percent. The West has had the steepest hiring decline at -4.9 percent, with paychecks down 0.6. Hiring in the Midwest is down 2.2 percent and paychecks are up at 0.9 percent. In the Northeast, hiring is down 2.2 percent and paychecks are down 4.4 percent.

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