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Ups and Downs

Paychecks continue their steady climb as hiring falls again.

This story appears in the March 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Last year ended with a positive sign from small employers. In December, the SurePayroll Scorecard hiring index climbed 15 points to 10,442. "It's one of the few up months we had all year, and that's real movement," says Michael Alter, president of the Glenview, Illinois, payroll service that compiles data for the index from its small-business customers. "That, to me, was a very encouraging sign."

For the past two years, however, small-business employment has been flat, with 2006 showing a 0.2 percent decline from 2005, and 2005 up just 0.3 percent from 2004. Salaries, meanwhile, leveled off in December after increasing strongly throughout the year. The SurePayroll Pay Index ended at 1,018, unchanged from November but up 7.4 percent for the year. The average salary hit $31,292.

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