Employment in the small business sector ended on a strong note in 2013.
According to the Intuit Small Business Employment and Revenue Index, U.S. small businesses added 20,000 new jobs in December. After a lull in job growth between May and October, the newest index marks the second consecutive month with an increase in the number of jobs across the country.
The Intuit Small Business Index is based on data from more than 200,000 small business employers that use Intuit's payroll services. The latest figures are from November 24 through December 23.
Not all of the data was positive: Average monthly compensation and average monthly hours both dropped slightly from the previous month.
Nearly all of the 38 states measured by Intuit's small business employment index showed increases in jobs. Six states suffered employment declines, while two states remained flat.
Economist Susan Woodward, who helped prepare Intuit's index, says that although small business employment has been recovering more slowly than overall employment, the December report should be taken positively. "After no progress from May through October, small business employment has now resumed its slow rise for the second month in a row," she says. "For December, the growth rate is about one-tenth of 1 percent, for an annualized rate of just over 1 percent."
According to Intuit's latest Small Business Revenue Index, which tracked the period between November 1 through November 30, small business revenues declined by 0.19 percent, with construction and "other services" the only industries that experienced increases. The largest declines were in real estate and the professional services industries.