Entrepreneurs hired more employees and paid higher salaries during the first part of 2007, in a growth trend that began this year, reports the SurePayroll Hiring Index. Com-piled by payroll service SurePayroll, the Index ended in June at 10,676, up 0.4 percent from May and marking an unbroken string of increases since last December.
"The first six months of this year are starting out significantly better than 2006," says SurePayroll president Michael Alter. So far, hiring is up 2.2 percent for 2007, and the number continues to rise.
The survey also shows more of the long-running growth in small-business salaries. SurePayroll's Pay Index ended the month at 1,048, up 0.2 percent--the 22nd consecutive monthly increase.
When combined, the hiring and pay figures may be even more meaningful. "There's a labor shortage of good, qualified people," says Alter. "You see that in 22 straight months of salary increases and in the way people are hiring right now."While businesses are being challenged to find good people, Alter is also concerned about rising inflation. It may not be that bad, given the relatively modest inflation that has already taken place in the past few years. Salaries in real terms only topped 2004 levels in late summer 2006. But it's still something to consider. "[Make] sure you have retention plans to keep your best workers, and the recruiting capabilities to make sure you're better at getting people than [other companies are]," Alter advises. "When you're competing for a scarce resource, you have to be better."