President Obama signed the HIRE Act, a $17.5 billion jobs bill, into law earlier today.  The bill includes tax breaks for small businesses and highway program funding intended to promote job growth.

Small businesses that hire out-of-work employees will be exempt from paying the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax through December.  To qualify, the employee must have been unemployed for at least 60 days.  Businesses would also get a $1,000 tax break if they keep the worker for at least one year.

According to the President,

“Many [small businesses] are on the fence right now about whether to bring on that extra worker or two, or whether to hire anyone at all.  This jobs bill should help make that decision much easier.”

In addition to the tax breaks for small businesses, the HIRE Act also extends the Highway Trust Fund so states can continue funding transportation construction jobs.

The HIRE Act is the first in a series of jobs packages designed to accelerate the rebuilding of the economy and help millions of unemployed workers get back to work.