The nation’s overall jobs picture is improving, according to Labor Department data released Friday, but small businesses have yet to see similar hiring gains. Small businesses added few net new jobs last month, analyses of employment data from two small-business organizations show.
Overall, January payrolls rose by 243,000, compared with 203,000 in December, the Labor Department reported Friday. The unemployment rate fell to a three-year low of 8.3 percent.
Small businesses did see some positive news. Revenues at private companies, most of which are small businesses, were up between 6 and 8 percent over the past year, according to Sageworks, a financial information company. Sageworks senior analyst Brandt Leahy said that private revenue has grown for the past 18 months.
“Usually there’s a period of growth that follows a recession,” Leahy said. “January’s number was a nice surprise and we hope it continues.”
However, hiring at small businesses dipped by 0.2 percent in January, and paycheck sizes were relatively flat, according to the Small Business Scorecard by SurePayroll, which tracks payroll at 35,000 companies with an average of eight employees. Out of five U.S. regions, only southern states saw an increase in small business hiring and salaries.
The National Federation of Independent Business also found that the net change in employment per small firm was zero in January. The small-business advocacy group reported that 11 percent of the owners added an average of 3.0 workers per firm over the past few months, and 11 percent reduced employment an average of 2.9 workers per firm.
“Overall, the January NFIB survey anticipates a relative weak job creation number with a small decline in the unemployment rate. The indicators are improving, but at a glacial pace,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg.
Leahy said it’s unknown how soon small businesses will begin hiring.
“It’s been different after each recession,” he said. “Private business owners need to forecast a year in advance, so any uncertainty in the political landscape could impact them.”