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January Job Index Report: South Leads U.S. Regions in Growth, Dallas Tops Metros, and Education Sector Dominates Small Business Job Market


January Job Index Report: South Leads U.S. Regions in Growth, Dallas Tops Metros, and Education Sector Dominates Small Business Job Market
As per the Paychex Small Business Employment Watch, January signifies the 34th consecutive month of employment expansion for small businesses in the United States. Worker wage growth remains steady in the new year, with hourly earnings growth maintaining a consistent rate of 3.47% since November.

“As we begin 2024, job growth in small businesses is continuing at a steady pace,” says John Gibson, Paychex president and CEO. “Nationally, wage growth remains stable despite 65 minimum wage changes  taking effect in various states and localities on January 1. Small and medium-sized businesses remain resilient in the face of many challenges, including a tight labor market for qualified workers, the cost of and access to capital, rising employer regulations, and cost of providing benefits to attract and retain employees.”

“Several macroeconomic data sources point to a strong close to 2023,” adds Gibson. “Gross domestic product (GDP) increased 3.3% in the fourth quarter while the annual unemployment rate hit its lowest point since 1969, signaling federal policymakers have managed to bring down inflation and secure a ‘soft landing’ without major repercussions for workers or the economy. Policymakers need to address the cost and access to growth capital for small businesses, as well as the long term-issues impacting the labor market — including the participation rate and the quality of the workforce — to support the continued growth of small businesses, which drives the U.S. economy.”
Highlights from the Jobs Index:
The national index, registering at 100.69, signifies ongoing job growth, albeit at a slower pace.
All regions, with indexes above 100, report positive job growth in January. The South (101.12) leads in regional job growth and has maintained its top position for 16 of the last 17 months.
In January, Tennessee (102.19), Texas (102.06), and Virginia (102.01) lead the South with index levels surpassing 102.
Dallas, ranking first among top U.S. metros in January, experienced a notable increase of 1.60 percentage points, reaching 103.30, marking three consecutive months of improved job growth.
Education and Health Services (101.91) takes the lead in small business job growth at the beginning of 2024, showcasing robust and sustained growth, with its jobs index exceeding 102 for 33 consecutive months leading up to January 2024.
Highlights from Wage Data:
Hourly earnings growth has stabilized at 3.47%, showing negligible change over the past three months (3.48% in December 2023, 3.49% in November 2023).
The West leads in regional hourly earnings growth at 4.03%, holding the top position for the eighth consecutive month. The South (3.33%) records the lowest hourly earnings growth rate among regions.
Washington leads states with the highest hourly earnings growth in January at 5.17%, maintaining this position for the sixth consecutive month.
Seattle reports 5.27% hourly earnings growth in January, ranking first among top U.S. metros for the fifth consecutive month.
Construction boasts the strongest weekly hours worked among sectors in January, experiencing a 0.32% increase since December. Meanwhile, Leisure and Hospitality exhibit robust one-month hourly earnings growth at 5.10%.
To know more about the results of the Small Business Employment Watch, click here.