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October 16, 2003
Small Businesses More Optimistic, But Hiring Still on Hold
Optimism among small businesses is on the increase, but these businesses appear to be keeping their hiring plans in check, according to a survey from American Express.

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Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of small businesses see growth opportunities for their businesses over the next six months, up from 64 percent in the fall of 2002.

A third (34 percent) of small businesses report plans to hire over the next six months, up from 26 percent reported a year ago, but steady compared to spring 2003 (35 percent). Respondents said they would recruit equally for full and part-time positions.

Start-up enterprises, defined as companies in business for three or fewer years, are more likely to have hiring plans than more established companies, according to the survey.

The survey found that firms planning to hire are more likely to offer employee benefits such as paid vacation, paid holidays, flexible work hours, and life insurance, compared to small businesses overall. Twice as many firms with hiring plans have profit sharing plans.

The survey includes the responses of 787 small business owners/managers of companies with fewer than 100 employees.

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