Small Firms Rev Up Hiring Plans

September 1, 2010 ( – A new Q210 survey of private company executives finds 54% planning to add staff over the next year – up slightly from the previous quarter and well above the 34% a year earlier.

A news release about the second quarter PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Private Company Trendsetter Barometer said only 2% of executives polled plan cutbacks while 44% anticipate no staff changes in the next 12 months. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said most of the increase seen in Q210 in prospective hiring was among small private businesses, which added 5.8% to their composite workforce versus 1.5% for large private businesses.

“We’re seeing a lot of mixed analysis on jobs data,” said Ken Esch, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Private Company Services practice, in the news release, “but what most people agree on is that the smaller private companies will lead the way in new hiring. Where these businesses had been making personnel cuts in recent years, they are now starting to spend again.”

Even as they are planning to hire, respondents voiced continuing uncertainty about the future course of the economy and how it will affect their companies, PwC said.  Only 45% voiced optimism about U.S. economic growth over the next twelve months — six points below the previous quarter’s 51%, though 11 points higher than a year ago.

Private companies with international operations remain slightly more optimistic about U.S. economic growth than their domestic-only counterparts, 46% and 44%, respectively. As for optimism about the global economy, international marketers’ confidence dropped to 37%, down ten points from last quarter’s 47%, but above last year’s 30%.

In keeping with increased uncertainty in the market, concern about lack of demand continues to be the main potential barrier to growth — cited by 78% of respondents (up four points from the previous quarter).  Concerns over increased taxation (52%, up seven points from the previous quarter) and legislative/regulatory pressures (50%, up two points from the previous quarter) were cited by more CEOs this quarter, in line with increased uncertainty about global and U.S. economic performance and governmental policies.

The poll incorporates the views of 250 chief executive officers (CEOs/CFOs): 143 from companies in the product sector and 107 in the service sector, averaging $290.8 million in enterprise revenue/sales, and including large, $300M-plus private companies. The survey was conducted between May 7 and August 5, 2010.

The survey report is here.