Recent survey results from CareerBuilder point to continuing caution on the part of American business to commit to hiring in the near future. Even those companies that do plan to seek new employees in 2014 will do so less aggressively than previously. Small business, in particular, will be moving slowly to sign new employees, with not even 20 percent of less than 50 in the workforce planning to increase their numbers this year.
Among larger businesses, the projected growth rate is similar. Only 24 percent of firms plan to add full-time, permanent employees, down a full two percentage points from last year.
Continuing uncertainty in Washington is cited as a big reason for the caution, but there are other factors as well — some of them unexpected. Growth of new technology is a boon to business in many ways, but it may also be considered a means of replacing human skills. Efficiencies generated by mobile technology and internet marketing, as well as advances in communication, customer service and online ordering may contribute to lowered staffing requirements, according to analysts.
The double-edged sword of technology, while it makes recruiting and managing easier though such software as efficient applicant tracking systems, also has eliminated the need for some human resources positions. American business won’t be chucking new technology anytime soon, however, so job growth must be considered in terms of the economy’s health and the ability of companies to realize increased profits.
The way Washington deals with debt issues early in the year is sure to have an effect on business expansion and job growth. As issues are resolved, CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson thinks the potential exists for new hiring at a pace greater than 2013. But business has adopted a wait-and-see posture.
Sales and IT positions are at the top of the want list for those firms planning on hiring in the new year. Marketing and business development, administrative posts, and customer service specialties are also cited as potentially needed positions.
Not surprisingly, a trend toward hiring more part-time employees is likely to continue due to the Affordable Care Act. Twelve percent of employers mentioned it as a reason for cutting back on hours, or for hiring more part-timers. A positive trend for American workers, however, is the return of some previously off-shore jobs, and that also is expected to continue.
Finally, about half of the human resources managers surveyed report a skills gap; they say that some positions go unfilled for three months or longer due to a dearth of qualified applicants. Today companies, 46 percent of them, are willing to train new hires; and a quarter of them will send employees back to school to earn advanced degrees, and pick up at least part of the cost.