Small-business hiring in March fell to the lowest point in over seven years, while hourly earnings grew steadily, a report from human resources firm Paychex said Tuesday.
The Small Business Jobs Index decreased 0.12 percent from last month and 1.07 percent from a year earlier. Small-business wages continued to rise, reaching a 2.66 percent (69 cents per hour) annual growth rate in March, Paychex said.
"Small business job growth slowed slightly yet again, to its lowest point in more than seven years," James Diffley, chief regional economist at IHS Markit, said in a statement accompanying the report. "This could be the beginning of accelerating wage growth to attract more employees."
Paychex said national hourly earnings in March were $26.48.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month that nonfarm payrolls grew more than expected, but the closely watched wage number continues to steadily decline this year.
Tennessee returned to its previous spot as the top-ranked state for small-business job growth, the Paychex report said, while Arizona ranks first in annual hourly earnings growth. Denver passed Seattle as the country's top metro area for small-business jobs, Paychex said.
The Paychex report comes three days before the BLS releases its closely watched employment data for March.