The first quarter of 2014 is looking strong for small businesses, according to the March 2014 Small Business Scorecard, a monthly survey conducted by payroll and human resources technology provider SurePayroll. According to the survey, 87 percent of business respondents expect a strong or steady end to the first quarter.
In addition, optimism about the small business economy remains high at 69 percent, according to the Scorecard survey, almost unchanged from the beginning of the year. This despite month over month hiring being slightly down at 0.1 percent and the average paycheck slipping 0.3 percent. However, three times as many survey respondents expect to finish the first quarter in better condition than last year.
“The arrow is pointing up for small businesses right now. Optimism is holding strong and there’s a belief in more positive things to come,” said SurePayroll CEO and President Michael Alter. “While there are some headwinds regarding health care and hiring growth, at the end of the day more of our customers are seeing better results this year.”
Hiring in the South looks to be up 0.2 percent month over month; down 0.2 percent in the Midwest; down 0.4 percent in the Northeast; and up 0.1 percent in the West. The average paycheck looks to be down across the country, dropping 0.5 percent in the West, 0.1 percent in the South, 0.4 percent in the Northeast, and 0.3 percent in the Midwest.
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.