SURVEY: HALF OF SMALL BUSINESSES PLAN HIRES IN 2012
By Jared Kaltwasser/NJBIZ
January 3, 2012
Small-business hiring decreased slightly in 2011, according to a new survey, but small-business owners are cautiously optimistic they’ll be able to reverse that trend next year.
A report by the payroll services firm SurePayroll found 50 percent of small-business owners expect to hire in 2012, and 56 percent said they’ll likely raise wages for some or all employees. Two percent of respondents said they would reduce wages.
The firm’s December survey also found year-to-date hiring down 3.2 percent nationwide, and paycheck levels down 0.8 percent for the year.
Laurie Ehlbeck, president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said the idea that fully half of small-business owners plan to hire in 2012 is a bit surprising, given the still-shaky economy. But she said there is a significant amount of optimism locally.
“I think that small-business people are optimistic because our current administration — the governor — has really made businesses, and small businesses in particular, a priority in the last year,” she said.
Ehlbeck said Gov. Chris Christie and the Legislature have done a good job scrutinizing red tape, and recommending or enacting the elimination of unnecessary or redundant regulations. She also praised the administration for seeking input directly from small-business owners.
That said, the real estate market and the wider economy remain worrisome, Ehlbeck said. She said the increasing cost of health care coverage also is hampering businesses’ ability to bring on new employees, as is the difficult lending environment.
“Some of our businesses are hoping they could borrow more money to buy new equipment,” she said.
New, more efficient equipment could help employers serve more customers and hire more workers, but she said it’s hard for businesses to borrow relatively small amounts of money right now, and some small-business owners have had their credit scores damaged by the recession.
“Their credit is not stellar, so they’re not in a good place to borrow money,” she said. “They’re between a rock and a hard place.”
Ehlbeck said making a hire is a big deal for small businesses, so most business owners are staying cautious, and are likely only to hire when increased customer demand requires it.
“The very small businesses are not as apt as maybe a large business is to hire anticipating that things are going to improve,” she said.