The latest CBIZ Small Business Employment Index (SBEI) indicates an improvement in hiring activity among U.S. small businesses (SMBs).
The company announced its findings on Friday (April 6), which recorded a 1.39 percent month-over-month increase in SMB hiring for March. That follows a decline of 0.2 percent in activity in February, CBIZ noted.
According to CBIZ Employee Services Organization President Philip Noftsinger, the data could be a result of regulatory effects.
“This may be the first sign of tax reform seeping into the small business labor market,” the executive said in a statement. “As small business owners begin to realize the benefits of tax reform, they will likely translate to better wages and more jobs. Almost every industry represented in our SBEI grew their staff totals in March, so if this positive trend continues, the economy could be seeing solid growth across the board going forward.”
Twenty-nine percent of SMBs surveyed by CBIZ increased staff levels last month, while most (52 percent) reported no change in the number of employees. Less than a fifth said they decreased head counts.
The firm said March is traditionally a strong month for jobs due to improved weather; over the past nine years, small businesses have seen an average of an 1.13 percent increase in hiring activity in March.
Every industry examined by CBIZ reported an increase in hiring activity, while the Northeast region of the country showed the strongest jobs growth among small businesses for the month.
CBIZ noted in its press release that the increase in hiring activity among SMBs comes as separate data from ADP and Moody’s Analytics reported 241,000 jobs added across private businesses of all sizes in March. Economists had previously expected 210,000 jobs to be added.
“The impact of tax reform is only beginning to show in the labor market,” CBIZ said in its announcement. “How small business owners choose to capitalize on tax cuts will continue to come into focus in the months ahead, but the fact that March demonstrates the first positive month for hiring in 2018 is promising.”