SMB owners remain focused on retaining their current staff through pay increases rather than adding new hires, according to platform data from 300,000+ businesses. Gusto’s New Hires Pay Index, a leading indicator of competition in the job market, fell by 3.5% in March 2023, a sign that the job market continues to cool amid rising economic uncertainty. 

  • In March, pay among newly hired workers was 7.5% lower than pay for those hired last year, led by decreases in the index within Insurance (-9%), Real Estate (-8%), and Finance (-5%).
  • SMB employment grew by 0.5% in March, below the 1.8% increase this time last year. Fastest-growing industries in March were Tourism (+5%), Accommodations (4%), and Facilities (+3%).

Gusto’s New Hires Pay Index

Gusto’s New Hires Pay Index tracks business competition for workers in real-time. It’s the change in wages paid to employees hired this month compared to a year ago. This index fell to -3.5% in March 2022, meaning businesses paid new workers [3.5]% [less] than new hires last year, a sign of [easing/intensifying] competition among employers looking market for employees.

Hiring Trends

Across sectors, SMB employment increased 0.5% in March 2023, compared to a 1.8% increase in March last year. Driving this change was an uptick in the hiring rate, which fell from 6.9% to 5.6% over the past year.

Low layoffs and firings are a positive sign that companies aren’t looking to let go of workers ahead of downturns.

About the data

Gusto pay and hiring trends data is derived using Gusto’s real-time payroll data from over 300,000 small and medium-sized businesses across industries and across the country. New Hires Pay Index calculates the percent change in average annualized pay between workers hired in a given month and those hired one year earlier.

Luke Pardue Luke Pardue was an Economist at Gusto, researching how public policies help small businesses and their workers thrive. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, where he studied the effects of government programs on disadvantaged populations’ housing and labor market outcomes.
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