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Despite the worst January for the stock market since 2009, plummeting oil prices and concerns about an economic slowdown in China, U.S. small business hiring bounced last month, according to the Paychex-IHS Small Business Jobs Index.
The index, released Tuesday, rebounded 0.28 percent to 100.65 from December, matching the highest rate of small business hiring since May and offsetting the growth-rate declines of 2015. A reading above 100 indicates growth.
Marty Mucci, president and CEO at Paychex, said there was "nice growth" across the U.S., adding "most regions and states saw a bump up."
Texas lost 0.47 percent to cede first place among states to Washington, with the impact of depressed lower oil prices taking their toll. Despite a 1.28 percent drop in January, Dallas maintained its top ranking among metropolitan areas for the 16th consecutive month.
The Mountain region remained the top-performing region, with the best year-over-year growth rate of 0.71 percent. The mid-Atlantic region came in second with 0.55 percent growth, followed by the East North Central region with a 0.10 percent advance.
Services jobs out side of public administration, such as repair and laundry services, remained tops in the industry trend index. Construction was No. 2, after posting its strongest one-month gain in nearly three years, likely aided by the unusually warm winter in the East.
Despite the small business hiring optimism, Mucci said overregulation remains a headwind and breeds caution. "Regulations do put a lot on small business, whether it's the Affordable Care Act, and now it's paid leaves of absence being discussed."
The index from HR provider Paychex and analytics firm IHS is based on information gathered from about 350,000 U.S. small businesses with fewer than 50 workers. It analyzes payroll data from the client base of Paychex.