Small businesses added 55,000 new jobs in December, according to the latest Intuit Small Business Employment Index.
The report surveyed 72,000 employers with fewer than 20 employees, finding that employment grew by 0.3 percent, and hours worked and compensation grew by 0.4 percent since November.
This month's figures continue an upward trend for the year, with 2011 compensation up 3.4 percent, and 31 percent of hourly employees working full time, compared to 29.7 percent in 2010.
While monthly pay and working hours saw an increase, "December is a special month," economist Susan Woodward, who helped Intuit create the index, said in a statement. "The number of hours worked are usually the highest, and employers typically pay bonuses. That is why it is important to adjust for seasonality."
Across the nation, all states saw an increase in small-business employment except New York, which saw a minimal loss. Arizona reported the greatest increase, with 0.6 percent growth.
Woodward explains that because "we're seeing larger month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted employment, hours and compensation, this indicated greater volatility in the small-business indicators and parallels the recent increased volatility in the stock market. All suggest that while a mild recovery is underway in 2012, it is fragile because uncertainty is higher."