If you’re like most small business owners, you could really use some extra help around the office right now. But are you ready to hire full-time employees? With all the uncertainty about tax issues, health insurance reform and the economic recovery itself, probably not.
Several recent surveys of small business owners paint the same picture: Entrepreneurs are eagerly waiting for the moment when the economy signals “All is well” and they feel confident enough to start placing those want ads.
In fact, an encouraging number of small business owners have already done so. According to the most recent Intuit Small Business Employment Index, small companies (defined as those with fewer than 20 employees) added 40,000 new jobs in July. That continues a growth trend that began in 2009; since last October, small companies have added 330,000 jobs.
The July figures were a slight decline from June’s revised estimate of 45,000 jobs. However, both wages and hours grew, by 0.7 and 0.9 percent respectively.
“It appears that small businesses are busy and need additional help, but are asking their existing people to work more hours rather than hiring more people,” says Dr. Susan Woodward, the economist behind the survey.
Meanwhile, in the latest Business Confidence Survey by Administaff, 78 percent of respondents cited the economy as a top concern—one that’s figuring into their hiring plans. But despite their uncertainty, some businesses in the survey are moving forward with hiring. Asked about their staffing plans for the remainder of 2010, 31 percent said they plan to hire, 60 percent expect to keep staffing at the same level, and 9 percent plan to lay off employees.
Numbers from job search site CareerBuilder echo Administaff’s findins. When CareerBuilder asked small and midsized businesses (with 500 or fewer employees) about their hiring plans for the second part of 2010, 32 percent of companies said they plan to hire. Of that group, 21 percent expect to hire full-time workers, 11 percent plan to hire part-time workers and 6 percent said they plan to hire temporary workers or independent contractors. T
The figure for the smallest companies (those with 50 or fewer employees) was a little smaller: 24 percent of these plan to hire in 2010.
These figures aren’t terrible news, but they aren’t great, either. To me, they paint a picture of business owners who are stalled at the gate. Like racehorses champing at the bit, they’re itching to be able to hire, move forward and grow their companies—but economic uncertainty is holding them back.
As Paul J. Sarvadi, chairman and CEO of Administaff puts it, “Many owners of small and medium-sized businesses seem to be hesitant to hire more workers and commit important financial resources in the face of current economic uncertainty. However, they appear to be ready and willing to make those positive decisions as soon as key fiscal elements are in place.”
Here’s hoping it doesn’t take much longer.