Payroll provider SurePayroll saw hiring and wages at small businesses flatten in April, with both down 0.1 percent from March, according to its SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard.

Optimism among small business owners plummeted 17 percent in one month, the company found, meaning more business owners will most likely be spending even more cautiously, which could affect hiring and wages in coming months. The scorecard is based on SurePayroll’s own small business customers.

The rising price of commodities — particularly oil — continues to take its toll on small business owners and the small business economy. April marked the seventh consecutive month of flat or shrinking hiring numbers across the nation. The average paycheck size is down slightly year-to-date and month-over-month. Small business optimism plummeted from a recent high of 69 percent to 52 percent.

The year-to-date hiring decrease of -2.3 percent indicates a continual lack of economic growth. Average pay, though recently on the upswing, is currently down -0.1 percent year-to-date. The increasing reliance on contractors suggests that business is picking up, but small business owners don't have the confidence or bookings to create jobs.

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