Tight Job Market Squeezing Small Business

Jan. 13, 2005
Small-business owners cite hiring and keeping workers as their biggest challenge these days -- and they're not alone. Even the big guys are feeling the pinch. But small to midsize firms may face some extra hurdles. "There's a tight labor market, ...

Small-business owners cite hiring and keeping workers as their biggest challenge these days -- and they're not alone. Even the big guys are feeling the pinch. But small to midsize firms may face some extra hurdles. "There's a tight labor market, unemployment is low, and everybody has a pretty good job," says Todd McCracken, president of Washington D.C.-based small-business advocacy organization National Small Business United (NSBU). "We've entered a stage where people are essentially stealing each other's employees because there aren't enough to go around....Everybody's having a hard time, but I think small businesses are having a harder time still, because they don't have access to the tools large businesses have to recruit." In the recent Seventh Annual Survey of Small and Midsized Business Owners, by NSBU and professional services firm Arthur Andersen's Enterprise Group, 47% of business owners say recruiting and retaining workers are the biggest challenges they face in business today. Some are putting more money toward the problem: 58% of small and midsize business owners say they anticipate overall compensation levels will increase by an average 5%. Thirty-six percent offer retirement and 401k programs, up from 28% in 1997. And the percentage of owners paying bonuses has climbed in the last five years, from 43% in 1994 to 61% in 1998.

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