Survey finds 44 percent of small companies plan to hire

//October 26, 2009//

Survey finds 44 percent of small companies plan to hire

//October 26, 2009//

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Sixty percent expect their businesses to grow in the next 12 months.A nationwide survey of more than 1,000 small businesses by software provider Intuit found 44 percent are planning to hire in the next 12 months, and 60 percent expect their business to grow over that period.

John Sarno, president of the Employers Association of New Jersey, said the Intuit survey looks at the future plans of small businesses, but “right now, there is no significant hiring going on. Employers are still in a no-hire mode.

“We just went through 20 months of furloughs, wage cuts and layoffs, and it was absolutely brutal. Now there is no place to go but up. It is still wait and see, but with some rays of optimism.”

The Intuit survey found small businesses anxious to control benefit costs: only 25 percent said they offer retirement plans to their employees, and 42 percent offer health insurance.

Harvey C. Bass, chief executive of Stascom Technologies, a staffing company in Sparta, said small businesses are operating very lean and have begun some limited hiring.

“I suspect small businesses will actively hire in midwinter and spring,” he said. Small businesses will hire before large corporations, which he said need to show they are consistently profitable to Wall Street before rebuilding their work forces. “At companies with less than 50 people — that is where we will see a tremendous amount of hiring.”

Other findings from the survey:

– 60 percent said falling sales are the biggest impact of the economy on their business, and 50 percent report slower customer payments.

– 79 percent have hired a friend or family member.

– 74 percent aren’t taking advantage of all the benefits available to their business under the federal economic stimulus plan.

– 56 percent believe the recession will last another two years or more.

– 82 percent see opportunities for their business despite the current economic climate.

“There are struggles ahead — nobody is uncorking the champagne bottle quite yet — but we are starting to see small signs of optimism,” said Nora Denzel, senior vice president of Mountain View, Calif.-based Intuit’s Employee Management Solutions Division, which provides employment management services to 1 million small businesses.

Virgil Hollender, a business coach in Jackson whose firm is called The Entrepreneur’s Source, took part in the Intuit survey and said he is optimistic.

“The climate right now for small businesses in certain fields is actually quite good,” Hollender said. “Anything related to health care or elder care is doing quite well right now.” Homeowners are more inclined to fix up their homes than to move, and contractors who “position themselves right and market themselves correctly are doing alright in this economy.”

E-mail Beth Fitzgerald at [email protected]