Hiring by U.S. small businesses was up slightly during February but paycheck size was slightly down, according to the latest Small Business Scorecard from SurePayroll.

The Scorecard shows month-over-month hiring rose 0.04 percent while wages fell 0.2 percent. According to the year-over-year data, both hiring and wages are down slightly nationally and regionally. Optimism among small business owners remains about the same, however, at 66 percent – compared to 65 percent in January.

The SurePayroll Optimism Survey found that 50 percent of small business owners plan to invest in technology during the next six to 12 months to improve efficiency, better manage customer relations and increase sales. They reported their technology upgrades will focus on business management, advertising and marketing, and back office infrastructure.

“The small business economy seems to be playing out like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day. Month-over-month it’s been a looping rerun but then at end of the scene there’s a small positive change – a minor up tick in hiring. This at least is a positive sign that a shift may come,” said SurePayroll President and CEO Michael Alter. “Rising gas prices are a looming cliff hanger that could kill our Hollywood ending since every dollar spent at the gas pump could mean a dollar not spent on Main Street. Relief at the pump may be critical to seeing even a slight positive trend continue.”