Not everyone follows through on their resolutions. But in light of a new economic indicator, time will tell whether employers are among those who make good on their new year’s plans.

Small business hiring dropped steadily in 2011 but appears ripe for recovery in 2012. (JONATHAN ALCORN/REUTERS)

“We saw caution in 2011, but the leading indicators suggest 2012 looks positive,” SurePayroll CEO and President Michael Alter said in a statement. “The sun is on the horizon. Optimism is higher, 50 percent plan to hire and wages look to go up.”

The data echo several recent hiring forecasts, including a survey of financial professionals conducted last month by Sageworks. Based on their interactions with business clients, more than 75 percent of accountants surveyed said they expect businesses to maintain their number of employees in 2012, while another roughly 16 percent expect firms to either increase or significantly increase their employee count over the course of the year.

Even the slightest bit of economic improvement would be much welcomed after a year of perpetually falling small business employment. Hiring closed down 0.2 percent in December compared to the previous month, completing a 1 percent dip since this summer and a 3 percent drop since the start of the year.

Nevertheless, small business owners remain positive regarding employment and wage possibilities, sending the SurePayroll small business optimism jumping from 53 percent to 63 percent in just the last two months. One in five companies also plan to seek funding to help them grow in the year ahead, according to the analysis, with many planning to invest in marketing, technology and improved facilities.

Does your company plan to hire and/or increase wages in the coming year? Please share your expectations for 2012 in the comments below.

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