Business Owners Expect Iffy Jobs Market This Year

The coming year has been a mixed bag in terms of expectations for growth. Some surveys show optimism, some a more muted outlook, but most reflect that owners generally feel mixed about the ways in which they'll be able to hire new workers over the course of 2014.

However, that's not to say that there won't be caution on the part of entrepreneurs who want to make sure they're in a position to succeed, even as they bring on new workers, the report said. For example, 24 percent of companies say they're going to be able to add full-time workers this year, but that was down from 26 percent in the same survey a year earlier. Another 23 percent of companies said they're going to either hire at a slower rate or simply not do so until the U.S. Congress resolves the pending debt ceiling debate later this year.

"The general sentiment shared by employers whom CareerBuilder talks to every day is that there will be a better job market in 2014," said Matt Ferguson, chief executive of CareerBuilder. "What we saw in our survey was reluctance from some employers to commit to adding jobs until the outcomes of debt negotiations and other issues affecting economic expansion are clearer.  As these stories play out and employers find their footing in the New Year, there is greater potential for the average monthly job creation in 2014 to exceed that of 2013."

In all, 10 percent of owners say they're undecided about the ways in which they'll approach the job market over the next 12 months, and 13 percent say they're actually going to have to cut staff levels, the report said. That latter statistic is up from just 9 percent a year ago. However, well over half of entrepreneurs say that they're probably not going to make a change at all.

Where will hiring happen most?
Of course, plans to hire or not do so aren't spread evenly from one industry to the next, and there are certainly companies in some sectors that want to bring aboard new workers far more than others, the report said. For instance, about three out of every 10 businesses in the sales and IT industries plan to hire full-time and permanent employees in the coming year, compared to just one in 10 human resources enterprises. Meanwhile, roughly one-quarter of all customer service and production businesses had hiring plans as well.

However, the most common type of hiring that's likely to take place in the coming year is that of part-time workers only, the report said. About 17 percent of companies plan to hire in this way, and that's up from 14 percent a year ago. Much of the reason why only part-timers will be hired is that companies are worried about their abilities to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's coverage mandate going forward.

Interestingly, close to half of all employers say they're going to be less picky about trying to find the "perfect" candidate for any job openings they have, and will instead work harder to train people in the right way, the report said. That's up from 39 percent who responded similarly just last year, and more than a quarter of companies are also helping to pick up the tab for sending their workers back to school.

Owners worried about their bottom lines and abilities to expand over the course of 2014 may want to look into some cost-cutting measures including shopping around for small business insurance in the coming year. Reducing expenditures on liability insurance, for instance, can save companies thousands per year that can be better used elsewhere.