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Inaugural Citizens Bank/UMass Small Business Survey for New England results released

A groundbreaking survey of over 3,600 New England small businesses sponsored by Citizens Bank and conducted by the Economic and Public Policy Research unit of the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute, reveals that New England small businesses are more optimistic about their economic prospects as compared to their national counterparts. However, a troubling 39 percent of those actively seeking new employees report that insufficient numbers of qualified applicants are available. Of the 24 percent of New England small businesses reporting plans to hire in the next three months, 39 percent report that they will exclusively hire temporary, leased, or contract workers.

The key findings of the Citizens Bank/UMass Small Business Survey for New England are as follows:

  • Over 39 percent of New England firms surveyed report that they expect the next three months to be a good time to expand their business, compared to 24 percent in a national survey conducted in April by the National Federation for Independent Business (NFIB).
  • 34 percent of New England small businesses believe that general business conditions will improve during the next six months. In every state in the region except for Massachusetts, firms reported a greater level of optimism about the near-term prospects for their own businesses than for the larger economy. 
  • In each of the six New England states the percentage of businesses reporting higher earnings exceeded the percentage reporting declining earnings. In contrast, the NFIB found that the percentage of U.S. small businesses reporting declining earnings was 9 percent higher than the percentage reporting higher earnings. 
  • 24 percent of New England small businesses surveyed report that they will be hiring new workers during the next three months. Nationally, 14 percent of respondents to the NFIB survey reported plans to hire new workers in the next three months. Among the New England states, hiring plans ranged from a low of 21% in Rhode Island, to a high of 28 percent in Maine.
  • Of those New England small businesses surveyed that report plans to hire new workers, 39 percent report that they will exclusively hire temporary, leased, or contract workers ­ 52 percent in New Hampshire.
  • Across New England, between 15 and 20 percent of small businesses identify themselves as "technology firms". Firms from southern New England states CT, MA, and RI) were more likely to self identify as tech firms, led by Massachusetts where 1 in 5 firms define themselves in this way.
  • Of those New England small businesses not planning to hire, 10 percent indicated that they anticipate needing new workers in the next three months but will not be hiring due to high wage and health care costs.
  • Of those New England small businesses reporting attempts to fill job openings in the last three months, 39 percent reported that there were insufficient numbers of qualified applicants available.
  • Thirty-one percent of New England businesses report plans to make capital expenditures (plant and/or equipment) during the next three months, compared to 35 percent in the NFIB survey.
  • Nineteen percent of New England small business owners are planning to add to their inventories during the next three to six months, compared to nine percent nationally.
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