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Fewer than half of small-business chief executive officers plan net hiring to rise in the coming months, according to the Vistage CEO confidence index survey released this week.
Forty-six percent of all firms in the third-quarter survey plan to hire more workers, down from the 54 percent recorded at the start of 2011. Hiring plans match year-ago levels, yet remain above the levels recorded during the 2008 and 2009 recessionary period.
Just 10 percent of the CEOs surveyed planned to reduce employment; 44 percent expected to maintain employment at current levels.
The CEOs surveyed foresee a continued slowdown in the pace of economic growth and, amid record-high economic uncertainty, anticipate weak fiscal conditions to persist during the year ahead.
“While firms do not expect an outright recession, they anticipate that the economic growth will be very slow during the year ahead,” said University of Michigan’s Dr. Richard Curtin, who directs the survey. “… considering that small business has been responsible for 75 percent of net new job growth in the U.S. over the past 15 years, if the current trend continues, it’s unlikely the employment picture will improve between now and the 2012 election.”
More than 1,700 U.S. small-business CEOs were surveyed for the report.