up and downIn its March 2013 SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard, online payroll provider SurePayroll Inc. reports that month-over-month hiring was down for small businesses by 0.2 percent while the average paycheck declined 0.1 percent. But optimism expressed by small-business owners actually grew substantially from 59 percent in February to 68 percent in March. Half of respondents said they expect to make new business investments with half of this group planning to hire new staff and invest in marketing and technology. Also, half of survey respondents predict Q2 results that surpass those of Q1 2013.

Nearly 80 percent of respondents reported that results from Q1 2013 met or exceeded expectations even as 58 percent said that external events, such as the fiscal cliff deal and tax increases, had negatively impacted their businesses. Data showed that every region of the country, excluding the South, recorded slightly lower average hiring while all regions excluding the Midwest experienced a dip in paychecks. The declines were the first anywhere in the country in four months.

“Right now we seem to have a tale of two economies with small businesses. While half are ready to invest in things like hiring and new technology, the other half are still being cautious,” said SurePayroll CEO and President Michael Alter. “While some feel they have been negatively impacted by events out of their control, such as the payroll tax increase, sequester and fiscal cliff deal, the jump in optimism this month suggests at least some are ready to move forward with the recovery.”

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