The past several months have been a mixed bag for many small businesses even as the overall economy continues its slow and steady recovery from the tough conditions of just a few years ago. However, because there has generally been a positive move forward, there was also a very minor increase in hiring among independent companies, and that could portend good things for the future.
Through the end of August, members of the National Federation of Independent Business reported hiring an average of 0.02 more workers each, constituting only a slight increase, and that was on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the latest data from the industry group. However, it should be noted that this was the 11th straight month in which there was at least some kind of increase registered by such companies.
In all, 13 percent of owners said that they brought on more workers in the last few months, and their hiring efforts added an average of 3.4 new employees each, the report said. Meanwhile, though, 9 percent of companies found they had to cut employment during that time, and their efforts led to them reducing their employment levels by 3.2 workers. The number of companies laying off workers, though, was down from 12 percent in July.
“The remaining 78 percent of owners made no net change in employment,” said William Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business. “Fifty-six percent of the owners hired or tried to hire in the last three months and 46 percent reported few or no qualified applicants for open positions. Twenty-six percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up 2 points, suggesting no change or a modest reduction in the unemployment rate. Sixteen percent reported using temporary workers, up a point and up 2 points over the past two months.”
Other problems still exist
However, it should also be noted that there might be a potential hurdle for small businesses when it comes to hiring as much as they might like, the report said. About 26 percent of owners said that they had open positions to fill, but couldn’t find qualified workers to do it. That’s up from 24 percent in July.
Owners who want to put their companies in the best position to move forward may want to consider first reducing their ongoing expenses. That could include finding more affordable small business insurance policies – like liability insurance – which may end up saving thousands annually.