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Small-business hiring slows, even as the economy accelerates, Paychex survey finds

  • Paychex's Small Business Jobs Index closed the year at 99.70 after falling 0.16 percent in December and 0.78 percent for the year.
  • Average national hourly earnings were at $26.14, up 2.76 percent year over year and averaged an increase of 2.85 percent for 2017.

Small business hiring slowed in 2017, even as the rest of the economy accelerated, a report from human resources firm Paychex said Tuesday.

The Small Business Jobs Index closed the year at 99.70 after falling 0.16 percent in December and 0.78 percent for the year. Small-business national hourly earnings were at $26.14 on average, up 2.76 percent year over year and 2.85 percent for 2017, Paychex said.

(Source: Paychex)

"While small business jobs growth slowed this year, it's important to recall that small businesses led the hiring surge coming out of the recession and maintained high levels of growth for quite some time," said Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO.

(Source: Paychex)

"We still have moderate job growth," Mucci told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "Wages are up just under 3 percent. So, we expect lower job growth, but still moderate and pretty straightforward."

Tennessee continued to lead small-business job growth, the report said, while Arizona ranked first in annual hourly earnings growth. Growth rates for small business jobs in manufacturing are on the rise, Paychex said.

Mucci also said Paychex recently conducted a poll on small businesses with less than 50 employees after the GOP passed a new tax bill.

"About 50 percent are going to benefit from tax reform," he said the poll found. "About 80 percent are going to invest those savings. Those that benefit, they're going to invest and about two-thirds are going to increase wages is what they're saying."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month that nonfarm payrolls grew more than expected in November. The closely watched wage number fell short of expectations, rising 0.2 percent for the month and 2.5 percent for the year.

The Paychex report comes three days before the BLS releases its employment data for December.

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