Small business owners are awaiting encouraging economic signs that justify increased business activity, according to the most recent Business Confidence Survey released today by Insperity, Inc. (NYSE: NSP), a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions for America’s best businesses. In support of this status quo position, when asked how they are managing the number of company employees, 28 percent said they are adding new positions, unchanged from the last quarter; 63 percent are maintaining current staffing levels, versus 65 percent in July; and 9 percent are laying off employees, up from 7 percent in the prior quarter.
Insperity also announced compensation metrics from its base of more than 5,700 small and medium-sized Workforce Optimization TM clients. Compared to the 2011 third quarter data, average compensation is up 1.6 percent, and bonuses are up 0.4 percent. Average commissions received by worksite employees reflected an increase of 1.6 percent versus a 5.2 percent increase in the second quarter of 2012. Overtime pay is still low at 9.5 percent of regular pay, under the 10 percent level that generally indicates a need for additional employees, but up from 9.3 percent last quarter and 8.6 percent in the first quarter of 2012.
In the survey, 71 percent of owners and managers of small and medium-sized businesses said that they are either meeting or exceeding their 2012 performance plans, very similar to 69 percent in the last survey; meanwhile, 29 percent report that they are doing worse than expected, close to the 31 percent response in July, but still a notable increase from 24 percent in the April survey. More than 40 percent are unsure about the timing of an economic rebound compared to 45 percent in the July survey.
“With the exception of plans to increase employee compensation in the next few months, business owners are standing firm awaiting the results of the 2012 election,” said Paul J. Sarvadi, Insperity’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Importantly, concerns about the impending fiscal cliff and its wide-ranging economic effects were certainly evident in answers to our open-ended survey questions.”