While small businesses again appear to be hiring, plans to create more jobs appear to be slackening, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.
Small-business owners reported increasing employment an average of 0.19 workers per firm in the month of March, which was the best reading the NFIB has recorded in a year and the fourth consecutive month of small-business job growth, according to NFIB chief economist William C. Dunkelberg. Forty-seven percent of the owners hired or tried to hire employees in the last three months and 36 percent (or 77 percent of those trying to hire or hiring) reported few or no qualified applicants for open positions. But, while actual job creation appears to be rising, plans to create jobs took a dive, falling 4 points to a net zero percent of small employers who plan to increase total employment.
“It seems that the stamina for growth is waning, even with decent reports on consumer spending at the macro level,” Dunkelberg said in a statement.
Eighteen percent of all business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, down 3 points from February. This measure is highly correlated (inversely) with the unemployment rate, so it is suggestive of a minor increase in the percent of our labor force that is unemployed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers on Friday will likely hold steady, Dunkelberg predicted, but prospects for stronger gains over the next few months are not promising.
“Once again, our bifurcated economy may have large firms doing well, but the Main Street owners not sharing in the gains and finding little reason to take on new employees,” said Dunkelberg. “Owners are still pessimistic and see little reason to hire. Small businesses need a shot in the arm; but seeing as this is unlikely, the slow crawl to eventual prosperity might be the best we can hope for.”
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