The CBIZ Small Business Employment Index (SBEI), which tracks hiring trends among thousands of companies that employ 300 or fewer employees across the U.S., reported a month-over-month seasonally adjusted increase in hiring of 0.09 percent in February, following a decrease in hiring of 2.96 percent in January.
Fifty-two percent of companies in the SBEI did not make a change to their staff totals, while 23 percent of companies increased employee counts and 25 percent decreased headcounts. The February period has has consistently reflected hiring stagnation within the small business sector. Additionally, Financial Services, Educational Services, Transportation, and Insurance posted increases in hiring during February, while Arts and Entertainment, Construction, and Retail Trade posted decreases. Regionally, the Southeast and West regions experienced hiring increases of 0.13 percent and 0.75 percent, respectively. The Central and Northeast regions posted decreases of 0.34 percent and 0.31 percent, respectively. The employment changes in each market were mild and can be interpreted as nominal.
The February SBEI demonstrated an essentially flat reading for the period, This falls in line with historical trends, as February rarely features significant hiring developments. With employment at historically high levels, a growing participation rate and a tightening labor market, we should continue to see little employment movement within the small business sector for the time being.