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Small Business News: More Jobs, Less Pay

Americans are working harder, but not making any more money, a new national survey shows. Here's the good news: Small businesses in the U.S. added 50,000 new jobs in March, according to a new survey. The not-so-good news is that while hours worked continued to grow, wages remained flat.

The Intuit Small Business Employment Index for March showed that small-business employment grew by 0.2 percent in March, which equates to an annual growth rate of nearly 3 percent and translates into approximately 50,000 new jobs .

"Employment is up again for small business this month," said Susan Woodward, an economist who worked with Intuit to create the Index.  "The gain, at an annual rate, is not quite as large as last month but it's still encouraging. Plus there is one more sign of strength – employment was up for the first time in many months in all nine U.S. divisions. On the state level, employment was up for many of the 'sand states' -- Oregon, California, Arizona, and Florida -- or those states hit hardest by falling real estate prices." (Sand states are states with an abundance of either beaches or desert.)

Hourly small-business employees worked an average of 107.7 hours in March, making for a 24.9 hour work week, up from 107.6 hours the prior month. But average monthly pay slipped slightly from $2,615 per month in February to $2,614 in March.

The combination of rising hours and rising employment suggests the atmosphere is improving for small businesses, Woodward said. But there are no signs of any pressure on small businesses to pay people more. This should not be a surprise given the high unemployment rate, especially among unskilled workers, because small businesses use relatively more unskilled labor than larger businesses do, she said.