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Small firms are hiring: Find stories in local jobs and wages

small biz

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There’s one nugget of interest from last week’s various employment reports is worth a second look.  ADP, the payroll processing firm, reported in its small business employment survey that small businesses added 100,000 jobs in March - a big chunk of the national number . It’s a good peg for a follow-up story on what sorts of companies in your area are adding positions and seeking new workers.

According to ADP, 83,000 of those jobs were in the service sector, so that’ll be fertile hunting ground for you.  It’s easy to think of small businesses like plumbers, Main Street merchants and restaurants. But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s a vast sector that includes everything from transportation to real estate to health care to utilities.  Arts, recreation, education and other big industries also fall into this category. 

Here’s the latest quarterly survey released a few weeks ago by the Census Bureau; if you delve in you’ll find a variety of subcategories that will pertain to a small business story.  The report indicates a fairly steady uptick in revenue for 2011 for service industries; will that lead to more hiring in 2012?

Another key source of information this week will be today’s release of the monthly optimism survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, which is a trade and lobbying group for small business owners (and one of the instigators of the Supreme Court’s review of the health care law).  The trend of this report has been cautiously positive with February being the second-highest reading since late 2007.  There’s a jobs creation component to the survey, which shows a rather tepid scenario that contrasts with the ADP report.

What sort of jobs are small companies near you creating?  Skilled or professional positions, or entry-level low-wage jobs?  In addition to interviewing owners and managers, talk with bookkeepers and CPAs about what they are seeing on their clients’ accounting rolls and what sort of firms are growing or contracting.  Average earnings in the service sector were up only $13 a week in March over the year before, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.

Another fascinating aspect of the National Federation of Independent Business’ survey is the indifference of small business owners to financing and credit; considering all of the federal monies that have been directed the past couple of years to small-business lending.   The NFIB says in its February report that “financing remained low on the list of cncerns for business owners” with only 4 percent citing it as their top business problem.  Where is the disconnect?  Why are federal programs being created to funnel money to Main Street if small firms say sales and demand for their services don’t warrant borrowing?

Be sure to browse the rest of the NFIB site, which includes an interactive map with links to state-level legislative concerns and other local issues.

Here’s a two-year-old Small Business Administration report on how jobs creation works in the small biz realm; it’s good background reading before you interview owners and managers.

In Beats, Economy, Featured, Small | Private | Non-profit, Story ideas.

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