The Paychex | IHIS Markit Small Business Employment Watch, which tracks job and hourly earnings growth in small businesses, showed its first decrease in job growth for this year in March. At the same time, the leisure and hospitality sector led all business sectors in hourly earnings growth, posting a gain of 4.2 percent for the month.
Overall, after remaining relatively flat in January and February, the jobs index declined 0.15 percent to 98.78. However, despite a 0.88 percent year-over-year slowdown, the first calendar quarter of 2019 still represents the strongest quarter of the past year. Jobs growth in the leisure and hospitality sector also declined, by 0.94 percent.
Hourly earnings growth also moderated slightly to 2.52 percent in March, while annualized one-month and three-month growth rates were closer to 3 percent, Paychex said. Leisure and hospitality still led the way, with 4.2 percent growth for the month.
In a written statement, Paychex President and CEO Martin Mucci noted that hiring in a tight labor market continues to be a challenge for small business owners, and that a separate survey showed that these owners’ optimism about their ability to fill open positions with qualified candidates remains low.