According to the latest report from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), 27 per cent of private sector employees have suffered a wage cut or freeze since the onset of the recession.
However, the Western Union Business Solutions International Trade Monitor has revealed 52 per cent of SMEs questioned in the final quarter of 2012 had faith in the economy - up from 46 per cent in the previous three-month period.
Interestingly, the International Trade Monitor also showed 53 per cent of small firms involved in the research were confident that international trade conditions would pick up over the course of the next 12 months - up ten per cent on the third quarter.
This kind of optimism is just what small businesses need, with 31 per cent of firms also anticipating an export-led recovery within the next 12 months - a figure that coincided with an improvement in the eurozone situation at the end of 2012.
UK finance director at Western Union Business Solutions Gareth Heald commented on the results, saying: "Cautiously optimistic is the best way to describe SME sentiment at the moment.
"Confidence has improved compared to a dismal third quarter but we are not out of the woods yet, particularly when considering there has been a 53 per cent increase in the number of SMEs who have had to reduce staff numbers as a result of being impacted by the eurozone crisis."
The Workplace Employment Relations Study from NIESR showed that 76 per cent of workplaces have changed some of their staffing practices in response to the recession, although it suggested some of this involved putting recruitment on hold.
Any indication that sentiment is improving is a welcome finding for small UK firms and 2013 certainly looks like it will be better and more robust year for British businesses.
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