Small business owners are returning to more guarded management techniques as evidenced by a decline in the rate of new hires and an increase in those maintaining current compensation levels, 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. Slightly more than 26 percent of respondents say they are adding employees, down from 40 percent in the July survey, and under the 28 percent level from October 2012; 68 percent are maintaining current staffing levels versus 56 percent in July and 63 percent last fall; and five percent are laying off employees, slightly above last quarter’s four percent, but down from nine percent this time last year. Insperity also announced compensation metrics from its base of 5,500 small and medium-sized Workforce Optimization TM clients. Compared to the 2012 third quarter data, average compensation is up 2.9 percent and bonuses are down 11.7 percent. Average commissions received by worksite employees reflected an increase of 4.0 percent versus a 1.5 percent increase in the third quarter of 2012. Overtime pay was 9.7 percent of regular pay, below the 10 percent level that generally indicates a need for additional employees, but up slightly from 9.4 percent in the third quarter of 2012. In the survey, 68 percent of respondents said they are either meeting or exceeding their 2013 performance plans, down from 72 percent in the last survey; meanwhile, 32 percent report that they are doing worse than expected, up from 28 percent in July. Concerning the timing of an economic rebound, 26 percent think one is currently in process versus 34 percent in July; 26 percent expect a rebound in the first quarter of 2014 or later; and 48 percent said they are unsure, up significantly from 38 percent last quarter.