Small business optimism, revenue, hiring up

Written on Feb 15, 2018

Small business owners are more upbeat about where their companies and the economy are headed, according to a new survey.

The data from the National Small Business Association (NSBA) and ZipRecruiter reveals nearly 60% of the 1,633 owners the surveyed in December and January anticipate that the economy will grow in the next 12 months. That compares to 45% in a survey taken in July by the NSBA.

Their optimism is likely fed by a good performance for their companies. Fifty-three percent said their revenue rose over the last 12 months, the first time in a decade that a majority of owners surveyed by the NSBA reported increases. Two-thirds expect their revenue to grow in the coming 12 months.

Hiring also increased. Thirty percent of owners reported they had added jobs in the past 12 months, compared with 22% who reported job gains in the previous survey. The NSBA noted that less than a third of small companies reported that they'd hired in the past year; that's consistent with findings of surveys by banks and other groups that have shown owners are hiring conservatively.

Hiring plans were little changed, also in line with the findings of other surveys. Thirty-eight percent of owners expect job gains in the coming year versus 37% who had that expectation in July.

One reason why some companies may not be hiring – they're turning to automation to get work like accounting and scheduling done. Nearly a third said they anticipate using automation in the coming year, and 9% of those companies said they'd need fewer employees to get their work done.

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