July 15, 2024

Economix: Another Bad Sign for Hiring

Small businesses have ratcheted down their plans for hiring, according to a report from the National Federation of Independent Business.

Each month the federation releases results from a survey of questions about small business optimism. One question asks whether businesses plan to increase or decrease the number of employees working for them in the coming three months. Economy-watchers can then calculate a “net hiring” figure by subtracting the percentage of companies that say they plan to decrease their work forces from the percentage of companies that say they plan to increase their work forces.

In May, there were more companies that planned to decrease their payrolls than those planning to increase them. This was the first time since September that net hiring plans were negative:

DESCRIPTIONSource: National Federation of Independent Business, via Haver Analytics Note: Figures are seasonally adjusted.

This net hiring index was only barely negative — the number of companies planning to hire minus the number planning to reduce their payroll amounted to negative 1 — and so may have been within the margin of error. But even so, this indicator has been trending downward all year.

That’s a bad sign, especially since this measure is by definition forward-looking. Bill Dunkelberg, the chief economist for the N.F.I.B., says that this question has in the past been a reliable predictor of how many jobs companies actually added.

On the bright side, he said that the companies with the strongest hiring plans are the ones that had been holding out on hiring, and so far have had some of the weakest employment gains. The top two industries in net expected hiring were nonprofessional services and construction. The third best was manufacturing, which had been on a hiring roll for a while but then lost workers on net in May.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=9d7c1f93d0b86988aca069a11a94c240

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