Study Sees More Small Biz Hiring Ahead

April 14, 2004 ( - There may be some light at the end of the economic tunnel - at least when it comes to the small business hiring outlook.

A survey by The OPEN Network, the small business unit of American Express Co., found that small business owners are more positive about adding staff over the next six months than they were a year earlier. Also, they expect more business to start showing up this spring.

Some 46% of the 732 small business owners and managers surveyed in March said they plan to recruit more people, compared with just 35% a year earlier. However, there was a slight uptick in the number of businesses that might cut back staff, to 6% from 4% a year earlier.

Of the companies expecting to hire, 19% intend to gather up part-time staff and 11% said they plan to add full-time employees.

“Last fall, we began to see a mindset shift among business owners from survival to growth,” said Kerry Hatch, president and general manager of the OPEN Network. “The sharp jump in optimism and hiring plans this spring points to an even sharper focus on growth.”

The study, which is released every April and October, also pointed out that the number of companies not planning to hire over the next six months fell to 42% from 58% in 2003.

The companies surveyed had fewer than 100 workers.