Small business owners continued to create jobs in February at a modest pace. According to a recent survey from Intuit, Inc. small business employment grew by 0.2% for the month, equating to an annual growth rate of 2.9% or 45,000 jobs.

The Small Business Employment Index found that although jobs were created, the average monthly hours worked decreased slightly by 0.04%, or six minutes. Average monthly compensation actually increased by $4 per worker, however, once adjusted for inflation, compensation is flat.

The index is based on aggregate and anonymous online employment data from approximately 73,000 small business employers, each with fewer than 20 employees. These small business employers use Intuit Online Payroll and represent a subset of the total Intuit Online Payroll user base.

"The hiring rate is slightly down on a seasonally adjusted basis, and sits at about half of what it was before the recession was underway. The low hiring rate reflects the reluctance of employees to leave their jobs in such an unsecure job market, so employers do not need to hire to replace them. This phenomenon is present in firms of all sizes, and is not unique to small firms," Susan Woodward, the economist who worked with Intuit to create the Index, said in a statement.

In January, Intuit reported 0.3% growth or 55,000 jobs, up from the previously reported 50,000 jobs.

"Interestingly, the biggest gains were seen in the states that have suffered most from the recession -- the majority of the western states, plus Florida," said Woodward. "The area around New York continues to look softer than the rest of the country."

Follow Kate Rogers on Twitter at @KateRogersNews