A number of initiatives and incentives such as tax breaks have led to an employment increase in the U.S. small business sector, and that trend continued in February. However, numbers suggest the trend may be grinding to a halt.
According to the Intuit Small Business Employment Index for February, small business employment from January 24 to February 23 grew by 0.2 percent, which is roughly 45,000 new jobs. While jobs increased, the index showed the average number of hours slipped by 0.04 percent and monthly compensation increased 0.15 percent, or $4 per worker.
"The hiring rate is slightly down on a seasonally adjusted basis, and sits at about half of what it was before the recession was under way," said economist Susan Woodward, who created the index with Intuit. "The low hiring rate reflects the reluctance of employees to leave their jobs in such an unsecure job market, so employers do not need to hire to replace them. This phenomenon is present in firms of all sizes, and is not unique to small firms."
Those with a business administration degree or online business administration degree can see increased job opportunities in most places in the United States, as the East North Central region was the only area to experience a decline. And those in areas that have struggled the most since the recession hit in 2008 may be more optimistic, as small business employment grew more there. For instance, Florida and much of the West Coast saw a growth in opportunities.
Government-Inspired Growth President Barack Obama has introduced and pushed a number of initiatives aimed to boost the country's small businesses, such as the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act, which provides more and larger loans offered to such companies. As a result, the Small Business Administration has increased its lending by about 70 percent in the past year, according to the Washington Post.
And in January, the president urged the passage of the Startup America Legislative Agenda, which would create four new tax cuts: a 10 percent income tax credit on new payroll for small businesses; a permanent extension of a tax cut he signed in 2010 that eliminates taxes on capital gains in key investments for small businesses; a doubling of the amount that entrepreneurs can deduct from their taxes for start-up expenses, and a 100 percent extension of first-year depreciation of qualified property for one year.
"Entrepreneurs embody the promise of America: The idea that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard and see it through, you can succeed in this country," Obama said in a statement on January 31, 2011. "And in fulfilling this promise, entrepreneurs also play a critical role in expanding our economy and creating jobs."
In addition to tax cuts, moves endorsed by Obama to grow the number of small businesses and entrepreneurs include connecting mentors and education to entrepreneurs; reducing barriers and making government work for entrepreneurs; accelerating innovation from "lab to market" for new technologies; and unleashing market opportunities in the healthcare, clean energy and education industries.
"What we want to do is to make sure that every single agency, even as they're tending to their energy initiatives or providing homeland security or transportation or defense, that we're also thinking about how are we advancing the cause of giving small businesses and entrepreneurs opportunities to start creating the next Google or the next Apple or the next innovative company that's going to create jobs and improve our economy," SBA Administrator Karen Mills said in January.