Small-biz job gains lag behind nat'l numbers

November 12, 2015

WASHINGTON (11/12/15)--Despite recent reports of strong payroll expansion for the overall economy, prospects for job gains at small businesses remained largely flat in October, according to the Intuit Small Business Employment Index.

The index, which tracks weekly hours worked and monthly pay, among other metrics, edged higher by 0.01%, signaling that the job market “is leaning more on midsize and large firms as sources of job growth,” according to Michael Ferlez, Moody’s analyst ( Nov. 10).

“Small businesses were able to weather the tightening in financial markets over the past few months reasonably well,” Ferlez said. “Also, small businesses are less exposed to problems abroad and, given strong domestic demand, small-business hiring should pick up in the fourth quarter.”

Hourly employees worked 113.1 hours on average in October, a 0.6% increase from the previous month, while average pay climbed $17 to $2,904 on a monthly basis.

“The anecdotes in the report noted that the hiring rate was 5.3% in October and has continued to rise steadily since mid-2009,” Ferlez said. “This is encouraging, as it appears to be taking all businesses longer to fill open positions.”

In line with the tepid labor market growth for small businesses, meanwhile, small-business optimism also lagged in October.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses’ monthly optimism index stood unchanged at 96.1 during the month after three straight months of increases.

Numbers from the report:

  • A net 11% of respondents said they plan to expand payrolls in the next three months, down from 12%;
  • 27% reported having job openings they could not fill, unchanged from the previous month;
  • A net of 21% of small firms said they had raised compensation recently, slightly down from September; and
  • A net 17% of respondents plan to raise compensation over the next three months, up from 16% in September and 13% in August.