While a post-holiday season decline in hiring is to be expected, new data shows the slide could continue, with many business owners still reluctant to bring on new employees due to continued economic uncertainty.
The January CBIZ Small Business Employment Index, a barometer for hiring trends among companies with 300 or fewer employees, decreased by 2.75 percent during the past month, following an increase of 1.75 percent in December.
Overall, 34 percent of small business reported cutting back on employee headcount. Only 18 percent increased staffing.
Prolonged job creation will ultimately depend on employer confidence and consumer spending, according to Philip Noftsinger, business unit president for CBIZ Payroll Services.
"Thus far, we are seeing 2012 open up very similar to 2011," Noftsinger said. "Data over the next few months should be watched closely in order to see if we can sustain positive movement into the coming year."
The research is based on surveys of businesses with fewer than 300 employees that reflect a broad array of industries and markets across the United States.
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who spent 10 years working as a newspaper reporter before working in public relations. You can reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.