Small Firm Hiring Up 25%

April 15, 2004 ( - Small business hiring was up 25% in the first quarter of 2004.

The number of out-of-work managers and executives who have secured new positions at firms with fewer than 500 employees rose to 63.5% in the first three months of the year from 50.7% at the end of 2003.The first-quarter figure is the highest since 66.8% of job seekers went to small firms in the fourth quarter of 2001, according to the results ofa first-quarter survey of 3,000 job seeking managers and executives conducted by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas says the increased hiring is evidence that the job market recovery may be well underway.“This is promising news for small business and the economy. It indicates that confidence may be growing among the nation’s largest employers. As these firms expand their payrolls and operations it will be felt immediately at all levels of the economy,” said John Challenger in a news release.

Challenger also finds confluence in small business optimism in a survey released by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). In March, 35% of small business planned to increase capital outlays, up from 30% in February. More than one-fifth (22%) expect the economy to improve over the next three months.