Buoyed by positive economic signals and a better lending climate, half of U.S. small-business owners are planning to make investments in the second quarter of this year, according to the latest Scorecard survey released by firm SurePayroll. The investments, data shows, will likely come in the areas of new staff, technology and marketing as companies look to expand sales and boost their efficiency.
The SurePayroll survey also showed business owners are increasingly hopeful about selling and the overall economy. Nearly 70% of respondents were optimistic in their economic outlook in March, up from 59% in February. About 80% of small-business owners say the first quarter either matched or exceeded their expectations and roughly 50% expect results in Q2 to surpass gains made in Q1.
Despite a positive national employment trend, SurePayroll's survey results indicate that hiring and paycheck numbers are not improving dramatically, however. Last month, data showed hiring fell 0.2% and paychecks dipped 0.1%, with particular weakness in cities such as Boston, Denver and Las Vegas. Many small-business owners say they're still facing tepid consumer demand and they worry about the effects of higher taxes and the rising cost of health care.