Paychecks shrink at Georgia's small businesses

Annual salaries down about $3,400 since last year

In its Small Business Scorecard, which uses payroll information gathered from about 25,000 client companies across all 50 states, SurePayroll found the average annual paycheck paid by small businesses in Georgia decreased to $25,556 from $28,963 in June 2008.

"What you have is a picture of an economy that's struggling to survive," said Michael Alter, president of Chicago-based SurePayroll. "One in 10 who want to work are out of work, and those who are working are making less money."

Alter said the data showed another trend indicative of the state of the economy. In Georgia, an average of 6.6 percent of small-business employees were contractors over the past 12 months, up from just under 4 percent for the 12-month period that ended in June 2008. Some businesses turn to freelance workers in order to cut costs.

Small businesses in Georgia and in much of the nation did show an increase in hiring over the past 12 months, but Alter said a hiring spike that occurred early in 2009 accounted for much of that small gain.

Since early this year, he said, "hiring is decelerating. I don't think it's a positive situation at all."

SurePayroll's average client has about five or six employees, Alter said.

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