Despite Best Monthly Employment Growth in 2012, Revenue Continues to Decline

by Tammy Lam on June 4, 2013
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U.S. small businesses added 35,000 new jobs in May, equating to the best small business employment figures we have seen since January 2012, according to the Intuit Small Business Employment and Revenue Indexes. May compensation remained stagnant and the average hours worked decreased for hourly small business employees. Small business revenues continued to drop in April, with the real estate industry seeing the biggest decline at 1.5 percent.

Hours Worked Decline with No Growth in Compensation

Despite the optimistic trends, there is still caution and hesitation from some analysts about how the economy will continue to grow. “The small business economic picture remains conflicted,” said Susan Woodward, the economist who worked with Intuit to create the indexes. “While May’s small business employment figures are the best we have seen since January 2012, small business revenues have continued to decline month over month on a per-business basis.”

Monthly hours worked by hourly employees were down slightly by 0.12 percent, while compensation per worker (including the business owner) did not rise at all. The fraction of hourly people working full time is down slightly also, again this month.

Average monthly pay for small business employees held steady from April to May at $2,696; this figure is slightly higher than the revised March figure of $2,685 per month. The equivalent yearly wages would be about $32,300, which is considered part-time work for almost two-thirds of small business employees in Intuit’s data.

The Employment Index is based on data from Intuit Online Payroll and QuickBooks Online Payroll, covering the period from April 24 through May 23.

The Geography of Employment Changes Is Split

Of the 36 states tracked by Intuit’s Small Business Employment Index, 16 saw small business employment growth in May, while 19 saw declines and one remained flat. Utah and Virginia saw the largest employment increases in May, with 0.3 percent and 0.11 percent respectively. Illinois and Wisconsin showed the greatest declines, at 0.1 percent each, while Georgia remained flat.

Continued Overall Revenue Decline Seen in April

The April Revenue Index showed a 0.6 percent drop in overall small business revenue on a per-business basis.

“Among the industries tracked, small business retail revenues have been hit the hardest this past quarter, followed by small business healthcare, which has seen the biggest revenue decline over the past year,” said Woodward. “The silver lining continues to be the construction sector, which is the only area to see year-over-year revenue growth on a per-business basis. The good news is the hiring rate, which has been essentially flat since mid-2009, has picked up slightly.”

This index is based on data from QuickBooks Online, covering the period from April 1-30.

For more employment and revenue data, visit index.intuit.com.

Tammy Lam is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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