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Small Business Conditions Improving, Yet Concerns Remain, According To Capital One's Quarterly Spark Small Business Barometer

However, the boost in confidence small businesses reported about the economy and their future financial situations was not carried over when they were asked about hiring plans. Most small businesses do not have plans to hire in the next six months (67 percent), a 1 point decrease from Q4 2012 (68 percent), but a 7 point increase from Q2 2012 (60 percent). This continues the conservative hiring trend the Spark Small Business Barometer has tracked since 2009. Over the course of the four years, 30-38 percent of respondents say their firms have plans to hire additional employees in the coming six months, while 55-70 percent say their firms do not. As shown this quarter, business owners continue to be cautious about adding employees, likely still waiting to see continued positive economic indicators and more regulatory and tax certainty from Washington before fully committing to expansion.

Of the 30 percent of small businesses that did report plans to hire this quarter, nearly three fourths (72 percent) anticipate hiring between 1-5 new employees. Nearly 30 percent of small businesses report plans to hire military veterans (28 percent) in the next six months, but only 18 percent have plans to hire recent college graduates. Nearly 30 percent of small businesses report that increased revenue/sales (29 percent) and replacing an employee who left (29 percent) are the primary factors driving their decisions to hire.

Survey Methodology

The findings reported in this release are from a telephone survey conducted by the opinion research firm, Braun Research of Princeton, N.J. Braun Research interviewed a nationally-representative sample of 1,906 for-profit small businesses in the U.S., weighted to Dunn and Bradstreet counts of all businesses nationwide by employee size and geography. Samples were also taken in New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Texas and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Small businesses are defined as those with less than $10 million in annual revenue. The interviews were conducted from April 24th – May 8th, 2013. All interviews were conducted by telephone at their places of business. One respondent per business was contacted. The margin of error is ± 2.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Interviews were monitored at random. Sampling for this study was conducted using a national sample of businesses drawn from InfoUSA. All interviews were conducted using a computer-assisted telephone interviewing system. Statistical weights were designed from the United States Department of Commerce to ensure proper inclusion of all SIC codes.

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