By Karen Axelton
The most recent federal unemployment figures released June 1 were disappointing, to be sure. But what’s the state of small business employment in particular? The SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard, which surveys more than 35,000 small businesses nationwide on hiring and pay levels, isn’t as negative as the federal data, but still shows small business owners stuck in a “holding pattern” in terms of hiring.
First, the good news. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of small business owners are optimistic about the future of their businesses. This is nearly twice the figure who were optimistic in September of last year (33 percent). What’s more, this optimism isn’t just due to rose-colored glasses: 50 percent of respondents are experiencing increased revenue and growth in their businesses.
The bad news—at least for employees, the economy in general and those who look to small business owners as job creators—is that for most small businesses, productivity is outpacing the need to hire.
“We’re seeing small businesses circling the runway right now. They’re not sure when and where to land,” said SurePayroll CEO and President Michael Alter in announcing the results. “Small businesses have made themselves more efficient through technology during this recovery, which is a good thing for them. However, it creates a holding pattern situation for the economy where increased hiring is not yet necessary.”
Month-over-month SurePayroll Scorecard data shows hiring just barely negative (-0.1). Month-over-month regional hiring was down except in the South, where it was up 0.2 percent. Year-over-year, nationwide hiring is down just 1.5 percent.
Paychecks overall are also barely negative (-0.1). Regionally, pay is up slightly in the Midwest, flat in the South and West, and down just slightly in the Northeast (-0.4 percent).
Where is the picture rosiest? In the South, where year-over-year hiring is up 1.7 percent and paychecks up 0.5 percent. Where is it bleakest? In the West, which has suffered the steepest hiring decline at 5.3 percent.
You can view more detailed SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard data and results for the top 35 MSAs at www.SurePayroll.com. How do these findings reflect your situation? Do you see hiring in your future?
Image by Flickr user Dita Margarita (Creative Commons)