The Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch for April shows job and wage growth kept pace with recent months. In the first four months of 2019 job growth has remained relatively consistent, slowing just 0.03 percent per month to 98.77 in April. Annualized hourly earnings growth in the last quarter was 2.78 percent, higher than April’s rate of 2.50 percent ($0.66).

The report shows that Phoenix suffered the largest one-month decline in job growth among metros, down 0.58 percent to 100.35.

“While weak, the rate of small business hiring has been consistent, with the national index slightly below 99 for the fifth consecutive month,” said James Diffley, chief regional economist at IHS Markit.

“We’re encouraged to see the rate of small business job growth holding steady, but finding qualified candidates remains a significant challenge for small businesses,” said Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO. “According to a recent survey we conducted, to help address the labor skills gap, a majority of small business leaders say they’re willing to consider hiring underqualified candidates who could then be trained on the job.” 

Broken down further by geography and industry, the April report showed:

• The South continues to lead regions in employment growth; the West remains the top region for hourly earnings growth exceeding three percent.

• Texas remains the strongest state for small business job growth; Missouri took first place among states for wage growth.

• Dallas is again the top metro for job growth; San Diego continues to lead metros for wage growth.

• Education and Health Services has increased its pace of small business employment growth in each month of 2019. 

The complete results for April, including interactive charts detailing all data at a national, regional, state, metro, and industry level, are available at