The vast majority of California business owners will add jobs or keep staffing levels the same in 2013, according to a new survey by Union Bank.
Sixteen percent said they plan to create new jobs and only 6 percent will cut jobs this year. That compares with 15 percent of companies adding jobs nationwide and 8 percent eliminating jobs, according to the survey of 500 businesses with $15 million or less in revenues nationwide and 200 in California.
"I don't think people are adding jobs like '06 because people are still very, very, very cautious," said Union Bank Executive Vice President Todd Hollander, who directs business banking out of Irvine. "They're still in business because they were relatively conservative during the recession. But it's key that 16 percent plan to add staff, up 9 percentage points from 2012.
"We're already seeing that. My Orange County team is outpacing the rest of the western United States," Hollander said. "That's a big deal for us because we have had trouble finding people who want to borrow."
That anticipated hiring is off to a slow start, according to Intuit Payroll, which monitors hiring on a monthly basis. In February, California employment decreased 0.07 percent, while small businesses nationwide added 15,000 jobs, a 0.07 percent increase. In that February survey, Nevada led the nation as companies increased their staffing 0.18 percent, followed by Utah at 0.17 percent. Seventeen states other than California also cut staffing last month.
As for revenues, Intuit said small-business revenues nationwide are just now reaching pre-recession levels.
The Union Bank survey found that small-business owners are more optimistic this year with 84 percent nationwide confident that their businesses are headed in the right direction. Business owners in professional services, such as doctors and accountants, are most optimistic, while those in personal services, such as hair salons and dry cleaners, are most pessimistic.
Hollander said that the health care industries are doing well, but consumers have been slow to spend money on discretionary services. "I'm encouraged that owners are more optimistic than we've seen in the last three or four years."
California entrepreneurs are more confident about the U.S. economy than their counterparts nationwide but less confident that the state's economy is headed in the right direction.
When asked to name California's top three advantages for businesses, 21 percent said there is none. Others cited the state's weather was the top advantage at (19 percent), followed by opportunities for growth (13 percent) and cost of living (10 percent). They identified California's top disadvantages as the statewide economy (17 percent) state/local business taxes (15 percent) and housing costs (11 percent).
"I hear more about concerns than advantages but maybe it's not as bad as it was," Hollander said.
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