According to data by SurePayroll’s Small Business Owner Optimism Survey, 50 percent of small business owners say they plan to hire in 2012, and 56 percent expect to raise pay for some or all employees while only 2 percent say they anticipate cutting wages.

In 2011 hiring and wages were down in December, meaning year-to-date trends were left mostly unchanged, the survey finds. In fact, national hiring ended down 3.2 percent year-to-date, and pay declined 0.8 percent year-to-date. Still, small-business owners feel positive as optimism increased to 63 percent from 53 percent over the past two months from its record low of 33 percent in September.

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