Small Business Hiring Edged Up in September

The jobs market has slowly but steadily been improving over the last few years, and small business has often been at the forefront of those steps forward. That trend continued last month, as there was a small but definitive rise in hiring among smaller companies specifically.

The number of workers hired per firm nationwide rose by 0.24 employees between August and September, on a seasonally adjusted basis, marking the 12th straight month in which there was positive movement in that regard, according to the latest data from the National Federation of Independent Business. Moreover, that was the largest month-over-month increase seen since the 2014 calendar year began.

In all, 13 percent of owners actually did the hiring themselves, a number unchanged from August, but those companies hired slightly more workers, at 3.7 per firm over the previous few months, the report said. Meanwhile, 10 percent of owners also cut their employment numbers, up from 9 percent in August, reducing their worker rolls by 2.4 apiece. NFIB chief economist William Dunkelberg further noted that firms cut staff far less frequently these days, and when they do, those reductions are smaller.

Still, trouble exists
Of course, hiring in the short-term isn’t always a good indicator of the state of small business jobs overall, and as such it’s important to look at other aspects as well, the report said. For instance, 42 percent of all companies – 84 percent of those actively trying to hire – reported that they just couldn’t find qualified applicants for their open positions. Consequently, 21 percent of firms said that they had job openings they just couldn’t fill. That number, however, was down from 26 percent a month earlier.

“Job creation plans also faded however, suggesting weaker job creation ahead,” Dunkelberg said. “The net percent of owners planning to increase employment fell 1 point to a seasonally adjusted net 9 percent after a 3 point decline in August.”

Owners who want to best position their companies for success in terms of hiring might want to start thinking about ways they can cut ongoing costs. That could include finding more affordable small business insurance coverage, such as liability insurance, to save as much as several thousand dollars per year, which can then be devoted to improving other aspects of the enterprise.