Entrepreneurial

Few small businesses plan to hire

Many small business owners in the United States are reluctant to hire more employees in the near term as economic uncertainty and sagging sales continue to put pressure on company balance sheets, the latest index on small business optimism from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) shows.

Of the 2,077 small businesses in NFIB’s membership surveyed, the number of companies planning to increase staff is down two percentage points to just nine percent, while 12 percent plan to reduce their workforce over the next three months. The report also shows employment has been reduced for the fifth month in a row with an average reduction of 0.1 workers per company.

“Small businesses seem to have the right number of employees,” said Holly Wade, senior policy analyst at the NFIB. “They’re breaking even. But until they see a pick-up in consumer spending there’s no reason to hire.”

Economic uncertainty is affecting consumer confidence and in turn small businesses. Twenty-six percent of business owners surveyed said poor sales are their main concern.

Wade doesn’t see anything inspiring more consumer confidence in the near future. “We don’t see anything on the horizon that would get small businesses to hire more and consumers to spend more,” she said.

Small business at a crossroads

– Jeff Stibel is the chairman and CEO of small business credit rating agency Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. The views expressed are his own. –

What is a small business owner to make of the headlines?

Right now, leading indicators – like lending, hiring and optimism – paint a conflicting picture of the direction of the country’s small business sector. It’s no wonder we’d be confused. It seems one index rises, while another falls.

Take, for example, small business optimism.  There’s no doubt we’ve come a long way from where we were at the bottom of the recession. But, the leading optimism index, calculated by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), still looks like a seismometer in the days following an earthquake.

Small business confidence taking a beating

All those pundits who declared the current recession dead and buried, obviously haven’t been talking to small business owners.

Chapman University economists are the latest to announce the official end of the recession – with the codicil that the recovery will be more tortoise than hare.

In stark contrast to that report is the latest National Federation of Independent Business survey that shows small business confidence is locked in a downward spiral, that is worse than at any time during the last big recession in 1981-82.

Small Talk: Healthcare debate heats up

The healthcare debate is just starting to heat up for small business owners. FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters sister publication, has a nice blog post titled “Healthcare reform & small business: 3 bills explained,” in which they break down Obama’s “Affordable Health Care for American Act” legislation, that was approved by a slim majority of 220-215 by the House over the weekend.

In general the reaction by small business to the Obama legislation has been largely negative, with the most damning attacks coming from small business lobby groups, the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Small Business Association. In a Wall Street Journal story, titled “Small Business Crunches Numbers“, NFIB senior VP Susan Eckerly said the bill’s “punitive employer mandates and atrocious new taxes will force small business owners to eliminate jobs and freeze expansion plans at a time when our nation’s economy needs small business to thrive.”

Denver Business Journal reporter Kent Hoover examined the bill from a small business perspective in his article “How small business fares under health-reform bill“. In it Hoover said that while the majority of small businesses oppose the legislation, some support it because “they think the insurance market needs the bill’s reforms, such as barring insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions,” wrote Hoover, adding: “Plus, they think providing a government-run option in new health insurance exchanges would bring needed competition to the insurance market.”

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