Small Business Optimism Rebounds Heading into 2014

Small business owners are feeling more confident about prospects for 2014, according to a new nationwide survey.

The December 2013 SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard and survey, released on Jan. 2, shows a significant rise in optimism from the same period last year, an indication that small businesses are in for a better year in 2014.

The report tracks real hiring and paycheck data for tens of thousands of micro businesses with 1-10 employees nationwide and provides important survey information giving a voice to small business owners on Main Street. The December Scorecard optimism survey found 70 percent of small business owners are feeling optimistic about the future, compared to only 55 percent in December of 2012.

"We saw a year of recovery in 2013. Seeing that optimism is higher going into 2014 gives us reason to believe small business owners are confident about the future, which typically results in increased hiring and growth," said SurePayroll CEO and President Michael Alter. "Another sign of a stronger 2014 is the fourth quarter decline we've seen in 1099s."

The Scorecard results saw the number of 1099s or independent contractors hired by small businesses slide during the fourth quarter, with only one in four saying they will hire more contractors in 2014 than they did in 2013.

"The slowdown in the use of independent contractors suggests small business owners may look to invest more in full-time hires in the year ahead," Alter said. "More full-time hires means more stability and more dollars available to spend on Main Street, hopefully propelling our economy forward."

Month over month, hiring was down 0.1 percent and paychecks were down 0.2 percent in December.

Year over year, nationwide hiring is down 1.7 percent and paychecks are down 0.3 percent. The South is the only region where hiring is up for the year at 0.7 percent and paychecks there are up 0.9 percent. The West shows a hiring decline of 1.5 percent, with paychecks down 1.3 percent. Hiring in the Midwest is down 3.2 percent and paychecks are positive, up 0.7 percent. In the Northeast, hiring is down 4.0 percent and paychecks are down 2.0 percent.

As the first economic indicator created by a payroll company, the SurePayroll Scorecard has provided a monthly look at national hiring and paycheck trends since October 2004. SurePayroll's Scorecard compiles data from small businesses nationwide, and exclusively reflects the trends affecting the nation's "micro businesses" -- those with 1-10 employees. The average business reflected has six employees.