Wage growth rate holds as Main Street rings in 2024 with stability

Main Street at a glance:

In December, employment activity on Main Street held steady compared to earlier in the fall. Headcount for hourly teams remained consistent, with little change in the rate of worker turnover and job creation.

For the first time in months worker wages have frozen after trending downward since August.

NOTEWORTHY

  • Small business teams contracted more after Thanksgiving this year than in prior years, though December employment activity was in line with preceding months. Retail and entertainment saw the smallest dip.
  • Job turnover and creation remained relatively consistent with prior months this year, indicating small businesses had the holiday headcount they needed.
  • In December, hourly worker wages froze for the first time in months following a consistent downward trend in growth since August.

December employment activity held steady month over month

The monthly change in employees working and hours worked was bigger in December than in prior years, but held relatively consistent with prior months in 2023.

Employees working

(Monthly change in 7-day average, relative to January of reported year)

Hours worked

(Monthly change in 7-day average, relative to January of reported year)

Data compares rolling 7-day averages for weeks encompassing the 12th of each month; April data encompasses the subsequent week to account for Easter holiday. Source: Homebase data.

A regional view reveals the Eastern Seaboard saw biggest decline

Colder states in the Northeast had the greatest dip in hours worked, businesses open and employees working on Main Street in December.

Output by Region

Month-over-month change in core economic indicators, by Census region

Note: December 10-16 vs. November 12-18. Region classification – Midwest: ND, SD, NE, KS, MN, IA, MO, WI, IL, IN, OH, MI; West: NV, UT, AZ, NM, CO, WY, MT, ID, OR, WA, CA, HI, AK; Northeast: NY, PA, NJ, CT, RI, MA, NH, VT, ME; Southeast: MS, AL, TN, KY, NC, SC, GA, FL; Southwest: TX, OK, AR, LA.  Source: Homebase data.

Main Street saw varied employment activity in cities coast to coast

In descending order, Sacramento, Birmingham and St. Louis saw the biggest gains in employment activity, with Providence, Oklahoma City and Hartford bringing up the rear.

Output by MSA

Month-over-month change in core economic indicators, by metropolitan statistical area

Note: December 10-16 vs. November 12-18. Source: Homebase data

Across industries, employees working dipped below prior years

2023 saw a greater decline in employees working by industry than in 2022 and 2019. Retail and entertainment held steady month over month, as they worked to meet holiday demand.

Small businesses in the retail and entertainment sectors saw the most muted declines compared to the prior month (-0.2% and -0.4%, respectively). 

Home & repair businesses saw the greatest month over month drop off (-5.3%), a significant change from prior years. This could be due to more suitable outdoor working conditions in early fall than December.

Percent change in employees working

(Mid-December vs. mid-November, using Jan. ‘19, Jan. ‘22, and Jan. ‘23 baselines)1

  1. December 8-14 vs. November 10-16 (2019); December 11-17 vs. November 6-12 (2022); December 10-16 vs. November 12-18 (2023). Source: Homebase data

Worker wage growth halted over the holiday season

December marks a wage standstill following a consistent downward trend in the rate of growth since August.

Avg. wage changes, m/m

Monthly change in average hourly wages across all jobs

Note: Data measures average hourly wages for locations that utilized Homebase to pay employees in both December 2022 and December 2023. Total incl. industries not depicted here. Source: Homebase Payroll data.

Main Street moved through the holidays with minimal turnover

The rate of jobs removed at small businesses was consistently low through all of fall. Hourly teams navigated the holiday season with relatively stable headcount.

m/m changes in average number of jobs removed

Monthly change in average jobs archived across all jobs

Note: Data measures average monthly change in total number of jobs removed, whether by voluntary or involuntary exit, from official employee rosters for companies active in any given month. Source: Homebase data.

Small businesses did most of their seasonal hiring in early fall

As consumers started their holiday shopping earlier in 2023 than 2022, small business owners also hired most of their seasonal workers in early fall with job creation dipping in December.

m/m changes in average jobs created

Monthly change in average number of jobs added across all jobs

Note: Data measures average monthly change in total number of jobs created in official employee rosters for companies active in any given month. Source: Homebase data.

Link to PDF of: December 2023 Main Street Health Report. If you choose to use this data for research or reporting purposes, please cite Homebase.

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