Hiring and the size of the average paycheck have dropped at small businesses, according to payroll provider SurePayroll.

[IMGCAP(1)]The SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard for April showed small business owners' optimism at 65 percent, despite a slight drop in hiring and size of average paychecks. Optimism remains well off its low of 33 percent in September of last year.

For those looking to hire, 40 percent of small business owners said they are having trouble finding qualified candidates in the fields of technology, sales/marketing, customer service and administrative work.

"We have a double-edged sword--on one side there's a shortage of jobs. On the other side, where there are jobs, there aren't enough qualified workers to fill them," said SurePayroll CEO and president Michael Alter in a statement. "As a nation, we need to look forward, educating and training in fields where jobs will be available in the future, instead of just training for the jobs available today."

Month-over-month SurePayroll Scorecard data indicates hiring at just barely negative (-0.1) and average paychecks down 0.3 percent. Month-over-month regional hiring and paychecks fell slightly in all regions of the country except the South, where hiring was up just 0.1 percent.

Year-over-year, nationwide hiring is down only 1.4 percent and paychecks declined 1.3 percent. The South continues to show promising signs, with hiring up 1.8 percent and paychecks up 0.4 percent. The West has had the steepest hiring decline at 5.1 percent.

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