U.S. small-business owners expect to add fewer net new jobs over the next 12 months than at any time since the depths of the 2008-2009 recession, according to this November’s Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey. Small-business owners’ net hiring intentions for the next 12 months plunged to -4 in November, down from +10 in July and matching the previous record low recorded by the Wells Fargo/Small Business Index of -4 in November 2008..
The Wells Fargo/Gallup quarterly survey was conducted Nov. 12-16, 2012, with a random sample of 607 small-business owners. The same survey found small-business owners are increasingly pessimistic about their businesses’ current situation and their expectations for the next 12 months.
Historically, net hiring intentions have tended to be very positive, with small-business owners expecting to grow and hire more new employees than they will let go over the next 12 months. In good economic years, net hiring intentions have been in the double-digits. This has not been the case since the recession and financial crisis in 2008-2009 with net hiring intentions reaching a low of -4 in November 2008. There was considerable improvement in small-business owners’ hiring expectations during much of 2012, prior to the recent November plunge, but now expectations have deteriorated to tie the low recorded in 2008.
In November, 21% of owners say they expect to decrease jobs at their companies over the next 12 months, the most recorded on this measure since the inception of the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index in August 2003. At the same time, 17% of small-business owners say they expect to increase the number of jobs or positions at their companies, down from 20% in July of this year and the lowest level measured since November 2011. Net new hiring intentions are calculated by subtracting the expected decrease in jobs from the expected increase in jobs. Typically, the majority of small-business owners say they do not expect the number of positions at their company to change. In the current survey, 61% expect no change in workforce size.
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