New Poll Shows Majority of Family Firms Optimistic in Hiring, Retaining Employees in 2012

Washington, DC (Press Release – February 22, 2012) – Despite the tough economy, family-owned businesses remain optimistic about hiring and retaining employees, according to the 2012 Family Enterprise USA survey of family firms. The annual survey released today compiles responses from 300 family firm executives from a wide range of industry sectors. 54% of respondents indicated that they intend to hire more workers in the next twelve months, while only 8% said they would be reducing their workforce. Longevity and stable leadership are among other attributes of family-owned businesses. 33% of respondents represent companies that have been in business between 30 and 60 years, while 44% have been in business for over 60 years. Among these well-established firms, more than one-third of the respondents have had the same executive running the company for over 20 years.

Although 50% of the respondents indicated flat or lower revenue as a result of the recession, only 34% have reduced their workforce. In fact, many older firms demonstrated core strength in the face of a tough recession – one-third of businesses with between 60 and 100 years of operation actually increased their workforce over the last couple of years.

“This year’s survey reaffirms the bedrock principles of family-owned businesses based on what we know from academic research,” said FEUSA President Ann Kinkade. “Because of their focus on long-term, sustainable growth, family owned businesses are committed to their employees and communities over time. Family firms have leadership tenure four to five times longer than shareholder-controlled businesses. They also have greater workforce stability and are more likely to hire and retain employees in the face of a tough economy.”

The FEUSA survey also found that family businesses are not interested in special tax breaks and short-term stimulus. In fact, 53% of respondents favored long-term predictability when it comes to the tax code, over more favorable short-term tax provisions. Uncertainty in the tax code and in government regulations is the biggest impediment to job growth, according to 44% of those surveyed. Support for long-term predictability versus short-term benefit ran greatest among businesses that have more than 30 years in operation.

Issue priorities for family firms centered mostly on tax and regulatory issues with estate tax being the number one issue at 65%. Tax reform that eliminates loopholes and reduces rates ranked second and general regulatory reduction ranking a close third. The new health care law is also of concern to family firms, with 61% saying they believe that the new law will result in higher premiums making it harder to pay for employee health care. More intensity on the impact of the health care law was found among family businesses of 100 employers or more.

The 2012 Annual Family Enterprise USA survey received 300 responses from executive-level officials from family firms between November 2011-January 2012. 48% of respondents hold the title of CEO or President, 26% are owners of the company, and the balance hold senior leadership positions. Responses were received from businesses in 33 of the 50 states and represent over a dozen different industry sectors, including manufacturing, finance, construction, retail and wholesale trade, restaurants, and agriculture.

About Family Enterprise USA

Family Enterprise USA (FEUSA) is an independent, national nonprofit membership organization whose primary purposes are to highlight the positive contributions made by America’s business-owning families, draw attention to the challenges they face due to public perceptions and public policies, and unite the country’s business-owning families so they may begin to act collectively.

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