If you have been putting off hiring more employees because of concerns you have about the economy, you are not alone.  A majority of small business owners are also planning to hold off hiring new employees — at least through the end of the year. 

Overall, 75 percent of small- and medium-size business owners expect staffing to remain unchanged over the next six months. Instead of hiring more employees, one-third of business owners are planning on doing more work with fewer employees.  However, business owners said they would hire more workers if the government imposed fewer business regulations.

Additionally, fewer small business owners are looking to spend on capital investments in the coming year. Just 58 percent of respondents say they will spend on capital investments this year, down from 70 percent of business owners who said they would make investments last year.  Overall, business owners are focusing on improving business technologies.

Six Steps to Smart Hiring Decisions

Though business owners are not planning to hire new employees this year, they are for the most part optimistic about the country's economic prospects. Overall, 58 percent of business owners say they are optimistic about the economy, up from 42 percent in the fall.  Additionally, fewer small business owners are pessimistic than they were when the poll was taken in the fall.

However, when talking about local economies, small- and medium-size business owners are even more optimistic. Seventy-one percent of business owners say they are optimistic about their local economy, up from 59 percent in the fall.   

"The powerful engine of the U.S. economy is not firing on all cylinders, but there are sparks of optimism related to sales, profits and housing prices," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC, which conducted the research. "These findings support our baseline forecast that the moderate U.S. economic and jobs expansion will persist in 2013."

The research was based on the responses of 1,718 business owners or decision makers with annual revenues of $100,000 to $250 million. The findings were a part of a biannual survey that began in 2003. 

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