2017 saw a decline in small business job growth in the U.S. and an increase in hourly wages over the previous year.

That’s according to the Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch, which draws from the payroll data of approximately 350,000 Paychex clients to gauge small business wage and employment trends.

The Small Business Jobs Index—a measure of change in small business employment in the U.S.—stands at 99.70 in December, down 0.16% for the month and 0.78% for the year.

At $26.14, hourly earnings in December gained 2.76% ($0.70) YOY and averaged 2.85% growth for 2017, up from the 2016 average of 2.75%.

At 3.14%, weekly earnings annual growth remains strong, but decelerated month-over-month for the first time in several years.

Regional Jobs Index

At 100.37, the South is the only region with an index above 100 and has ranked first every month in 2017.

The South was followed by the Midwest at 99.55, the Northeast (99.52), and the West (99.34).

All four regions declined from last year, with the biggest drop occurring in the West (-96%).

At the division level, only the West South Central, with the oil recovery, and New England improved the pace of small business job growth year-over-year.

Regional Wage Report  

At 3.51%, the West continues to be the strongest region for hourly earnings growth, nearly a full percentage point ahead of the second-ranked Northeast (2.67%).

The South had a growth rate of 2.64%, followed by the Midwest at 2.21%.

The Midwest ranks last in both earnings and hours worked growth, while the West leads both categories.

Industry Data

With its eighth decrease in the last nine months, the leisure and hospitality industry Jobs Index has dropped 2.73% since March, from 101.79 to 99.01.

While all other industries slowed or remained unchanged from last year, manufacturing grew 1.61% and climbed a spot in the rankings for the third month in a row.

Growth in weekly earnings picked up in construction during 2017, climbing from 2.94% last December to 3.58% this December.

Weekly earnings slowed markedly to end the year in manufacturing and professional and business services.