How to Compete If Your Job Market Is ReboundingAn economic downturn is never the same everywhere. Some cities can be devastated, while others can amble along nearly unscathed.

In some U.S.cities, hiring has begun to grow again, the SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard shows. The July study from the payroll-service provider shows big differences in hiring trends in different markets.

Overall, hiring is down 2.4 percent year-to-date, SurePayroll reports. Paychecks have stayed fairly stable, though -- down just .3 percent.

Where are businesses beating the odds and hiring new staff? Here's a look at the top five markets for hiring in 2011 through last month, among the 35 largest U.S. cities:

 Top Five Cities Hiring By Number of New Employees

  1. Orlando, Fla. 4.7%
  2. Greensboro, S.C. 3.5%
  3. St. Louis, Mo. 2.8%
  4. Charlotte, N.C. 2.6%
  5. Tampa, Fla. 2.6%

I think it's notable that these are nearly all southern states and right-to-work states with low hourly minimum wages. No surprise hiring is picking up here first.

If you're in a market where hiring is getting competitive again, how can a small business get top talent? 

Knowledge is power. Find out what other businesses are offering candidates, so you can be prepared to talk about your strengths.

Offer flexibility. Many seasoned pros are looking for flexible work situations -- the ability to work four 10-hour days, or to work early mornings, or to job-share and work half-time.

Think perks.  You may not have the best salary, but you can make your business attractive in other ways. How about an office with a window, or free lunch once a week? 

Train and promote. If you're willing to teach new skills, you can attract candidates looking to add to their knowledge. If you can promote workers in a short timeframe when they excel, stress that angle. In large corporations, it's hard to get the head honcho's attention, where with a small business, they may be able to work directly with the owner, learn more, and move up faster.

Are businesses hiring in your town? Leave a comment and give us your local outlook.