Hourly Wages at Small Businesses Hit Record Level in December

record level hourly wages

As 2021 drew to a close, the average hourly wage at small businesses locked in at $30, according to the Paychex IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch.

The December data shows hourly earnings growth improving to 4.27%, which is the highest level since Paychex began reporting 10 years ago.

Hiring at small businesses also closed 2021 on an optimistic stat, improving 7.31% from the prior year, according to the same report.

Hourly Wages at Small Businesses Hit Record Level in December

Paychex CEO Martin Mucci summed the stats.

“Employers are responding to the pressure of the tight labor market by raising wages, and workers are benefitting,” Mucci said.

Key Paychex Report Data for Small Biz Owners

Hourly earnings growth exceeded four percent in all regions of the U.S. The West overtook the South as the top region for small business growth. Texas kept top state honors for small business hiring, with Dallas the top metro area. Minneapolis holds second place and is up 12.33% from last year. Denver ranks last in the Metro areas.

Leisure and hospitality hit double-digit hourly earnings growth (10.69 percent) to lead all industry sectors.

The Small Business Jobs Index increased to 100.94 in December, its highest level since August 2014. The rate of growth, however, has slowed for the past two months (0.50 percent in October, 0.27 percent in November, and 0.22 percent in December.

Weekly earnings growth improved to 4.14 percent in December, joining hourly gains of 4.27 percent. Both measures were less than three percent as recently as June. While year-over-year growth remains slightly negative (0.16 percent), weekly hours worked have increased for three consecutive months.

Job Growth by Industry

The leisure and hospitality index (105.68) gained 1.39 percent in December and 21.36 percent during the past year.

Four industries decreased in December (construction, education and health services, manufacturing, and financial activities). Gains in Leisure and Hospitality pulled up the national increase.
Construction and financial activities ended 2021 with index levels below 99, recovering only a little more than one percent during the year.

Wages by Industry

Leisure and hospitality hit double-digit hourly earnings growth (10.69 percent) to lead all sectors. Trade, transportation, and utilities ranks second at 5.56 percent.

With education and health services improving to 3.00 percent in December, all sectors have hourly earnings growth at or above three percent.

Weekly earnings growth is just 2.18 percent in the education and health services industry, six times lower than the leisure and hospitality growth rate (13.29 percent).

Image: Depositphotos

Lisa Price Lisa Price is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 4 years. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in journalism from Shippensburg State College (Pennsylvania). She is also a freelance writer and previously worked as a newspaper circulation district manager and radio station commercial writer. In 2019, Lisa received the (Pennsylvania) Keystone Award.