The metro Atlanta economy may be stumbling en route to recovery, but local small businesses are showing some signs of a comeback.
Hiring by small businesses here has increased by 2 percent so far this year, according to the latest monthly survey conducted by SurePayroll, an online business payroll service that uses data from 32,000 customers who employ an average of seven workers each.
Further, the size of the average paycheck for workers at those companies has grown by 1.6 percent this year, the survey found.
The increase in hiring in Atlanta contrasts with the situation nationally, where hiring by small businesses is down 2.3 percent for the year. Pay is down 0.1 percent nationwide.
More than one-half of the 36 markets surveyed reported declines in hiring by small businesses, while all but 10 of the markets reported gains in pay.
"It's clear that Atlanta is performing stronger than most other [markets]," said Michael Alter, president and CEO of SurePayroll, which has been releasing its reports since 2004.
Alter attributed part of the increase in hiring in Atlanta to small businesses adding contract workers to the payroll.
"That's where a good portion of the growth is coming from," he said.
Paycheck size grew, he said, as employees worked longer hours.
Atlanta's gains in hiring and paycheck size are a positive trend, but Alter said it's an indicator of only one stage of a recovery. What has to happen next, he said, is for employers to increase the number of permanent, full-time workers. That, he said, could cause a dip in the number of contractors being hired as well as in wages, as temporary employees and overtime are reduced.
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