National job growth continued to tick upward in September, according to aggregated payroll data of approximately 350,000 clients provided by Paychex. The data released in the latest report of the Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch shows the Small Business Jobs Index reached 99.95. The pace of small business employment growth improved throughout the summer, though monthly gains slowed considerably in August (0.45 percent) and in September (0.15 percent). Hourly earnings growth increased to 3.68 percent for the month, its fourth consecutive increase. The report also shows that Arizona job growth ranks second in the nation.

“While the growth rate of the national jobs index has slowed over the past two months, the index is now close to 100, its highest level since mid-2017,” said James Diffley, chief regional economist at IHS Markit.

“With businesses continuing to recover from the impacts of the pandemic and the competitive employment landscape, we’re beginning to see wage pressures in certain industries,” said Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO. “The leisure and hospitality sector, with its many job openings across the country, is seeing the highest hourly earnings growth across all industries in September.”

In further detail, the September report showed:

• At 99.95, the national index has increased 5.84 percent during the past 12 months as small businesses continue to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

• At $29.68 in September, hourly earnings have improved by $1.05 from a year ago. This is the first time that year-over-year gains reached one dollar since reporting began ten years ago.

• Five metros, Los Angeles, Riverside, Denver, Atlanta, and Tampa recorded wage gains above four percent in September.

• Hourly earnings growth in Leisure and hospitality has increased to 8.14 percent, highest among industry sectors.

• Texas overtook Arizona for the lead among states in job growth, at 102.90.

• At 104.06, Dallas leads metro small business jobs growth, jumping 1.18 percent in September and 2.85 percent during the past quarter.

• The construction sector now has the second weakest jobs index (98.57) and the lowest 12-month growth rate (0.84 percent).

Paychex business solutions reach 1 in 12 American private-sector employees, making the Small Business Jobs Index report an industry benchmark. The national jobs index uses a 12-month same-store methodology to gauge small business employment trends on a national, regional, state, metro, and industry basis.

The complete results for September, including interactive charts detailing all data, are available at