Small-business employment dipsNews added by Benefits Pro on January 7, 2013

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By Amanda McGrory-Dixon

Among employers with 300 or fewer employees, employment rose 0.39 percent in December after a growth of 0.82 percent in November, according to The CBIZ Small Business Employment.

Based on this data, the private sector brought in 215,000 jobs, far surpassing analysts’ estimates of 140,000 jobs.

“As expected and consistent with readings from the entire fourth quarter, our Index shows a minimal 0.39 percent gain,” says Philip Noftsinger, business unit president of CBIZ Payroll Services. “A reading this low, while not negative, does show that small businesses surveyed are still holding back on hiring, most likely awaiting the results from Washington on tax rate changes as well as spending cuts.”

Twenty-four percent of respondents report that they hired more employees, but 23 percent of respondents cut staff. The remaining 53 percent of respondents did not adjust their personnel numbers.

According to CBIZ, Washington’s budget and tax battles are causing respondents to be more apprehensive regarding business risks. Thus, respondents are less likely to hire. Although the House of Representatives came to a bipartisan agreement on tax rates, CBIZ expects to see more struggles on spending cuts with another vote on the debt ceiling.

“Unfortunately, the situation in Washington seems to be a ‘wet blanket’ on what overall have been some encouraging macro numbers lately, such as housing and consumer spending,” Noftsinger says.

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