By Joyce M. Rosenberg
The hiring freeze at small businesses looks like it's finally thawing.
Recruiting is picking up after being dormant at many companies even years after the recession. The factors behind companies' decisions to hire vary, with some anticipating a big revenue kick from the Trump administration's spending plans for defense and infrastructure. Other are responding to trends such as consumers' shift to online shopping, which means more jobs at internet retailers. And some hires are at companies whose customers are suffering from anxiety in the early days of the new administration.
The pickup in hiring was clear in a report Wednesday from payroll provider ADP, which said its small business customers added 104,000 jobs in February, following a January gain of 62,000. That compared to an average monthly increase of 33,000 from September through December. Hiring gains for all of 2016 averaged 60,000 a month after fluctuating from 2011 to 2015.
Small business owners had indicated their plans to expand. A survey by the advocacy group the National Small Business Association done in January showed 43 percent of owners expected to hire in the next 12 months, up significantly from 33 percent during the summer. Other surveys have also shown big increases in owners planning to bring on more workers.
It's a shift from the recession and its aftermath, when many owners were leery about the risks of hiring until they were certain of their revenue. Some owners said they'd keep asking their existing staffs to absorb any additional work.
Business surged at Rachel Beider's two massage businesses in New York's borough of Brooklyn after President Donald Trump's inauguration, with revenue rising 50 percent that first week. Bookings have remained high and Beider, who has a total of 46 part-time massage therapists at Massage Williamsburg and Massage Greenpoint, needs four more to keep up. She's also hired a full-time receptionist.
Clients stressed about the political climate are making appointments in hopes that a massage will help them feel better, Beider says.
"Their anxiety is taking a physical toll on their health, manifesting as shoulder tension, neck pain, headaches, insomnia and jaw pain," Beider says.
Beider was surprised by the increase in her business.
"I wasn't expecting the volume or frequency of appointments — people are making more visits," she says.