59% of Small Businesses Use Video for Advertising, Survey Finds

Chatbots are all the business buzz – and for good reason.

They give customers of any-size business critical answers to pressing questions quickly.

They can:

Boost your average order value.
Accelerate the buyers’ journey.
Reduce your customer service costs.

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A new report finds that a good number of small businesses (29%) are spending somewhere in the sweet spot of  ($750-$2499) monthly to get the data needed for good online advertising results.

WordStreams Online Advertising Landscape in 2019 report also found that only 10% of the respondents had a monthly advertising budget less than the low end plateau for effectiveness of $750 monthly.

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People have a lot of opinions when it comes to debt and borrowing. At one extreme, some believe that all debt should be avoided and there’s no room for argument on the subject. Others perhaps borrow a little too freely, taking out new financing with little thought about whether doing so will be a benefit or a hindrance in the long term.

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Cybersecurity remains one of the most challenging issues for small business owners. And the problem leads small business owners to seek out managed service providers to present them with solutions.

But a new report from Continuum says the state of cybersecurity among small businesses in 2019 still needs to improve. The data suggests great opportunities for service providers who offer cyber security as part of their package.

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It is hard to start a profitable business in a competitive landscape. No doubt, business starts with a primary goal of making profits. Getting these profits from the phase of no client to multiple clients is a period of learning, falling, getting through and finally managing to sustain.

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Ranking a business website higher enhances its chances of gaining a lead that could ultimately turn into a new business sale. To rank, a website higher needs quite a few steps and does not happen overnight. Let’s figure out the five most common and impactful professional SEO tips that a CEO insists upon.

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Spreadsheets have long been an important tool for businesses. You can use them for just about anything. This includes budgeting and planning out important marketing campaigns.

No tool seems more synonymous with spreadsheets than Excel. Microsofts tool allows you to easily fill in spaces and create tables. But it also takes advantage of some more advanced features. However, starting from scratch will not give you a productive business.

You may want to take advantage of all that Excel has to offer. But maybe you don’t know exactly how to get started. So templates become a great option. Check out some sources for Excel business templates that can help you in 15 different areas of business operations.

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As any entrepreneur will tell you, owning a business comes with a lot of demands, pressure and hard work, but it can also be extremely rewarding. Thanks to an impactful conversation with an old friend and fellow business owner several years ago, I realized that I was wasting a lot of money by just having one credit card to pay business expenses.

Multiple credit cards can provide big bonuses.

Credit card companies are fighting a turf war, and they all have enticing offers to get us to sign up with them. My rationale is, why be exclusive to one bank? Why choose only one credit card? Why not enjoy the benefits from multiple banks?

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Owners of small businesses should consider hiring their children.

A young person whos claimed as a dependent on their parents return can still have $12,000 of wages in 2019 and pay no income tax. The Standard Deduction offsets the wages.

The parents probably provided more than 50 percent of the basic support of the child (housing, food, clothing, medical and transportation expenses). The parents can still claim the exemption for the child, but dependent exemptions are no longer done (allowed). If the child is younger than age 17, the parents do get a Child Tax Credit of $2,000. That credit directly offsets income tax of the parents.

If the business is a sole owner business, a single member LLC or a partnership owned only by the childs parents, there are no payroll taxes for the child or the employer to pay on the wages.

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As a (new) small business owner myself, I am very much talking from experience with these stay sane tips. You will find that you can never prevent work from piling up but you can lay down some strategies that will help you manage the work.

You need to consider your own state of mind and do what is best for you. Whatever your goal is in a business, your dream will eventually turn into an illusion when you become overwhelmed. There are a few secrets to staying sane by breaking up stress. Here are a few tips to get you started.

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Owning and operating a small business is challenging in today’s market. And common issues that small business leaders often must handle on their own are the countless HR tasks and responsibilities that take a significant amount of time and energy to properly manage.

The frustration and stress involved with modern HR has resulted in an increase in the use of outsourcing solutions. But one in particular can prove to be valuable to small employers: professional employer organizations (PEO).

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A Small Business can be identified as a being a privately-owned corporation, partnership, or sole proprietor that have fewer staff and less annual revenue than a regular-sized corporation. The European Union (EU) defines a small business as one with under 50 employees.

Small business or as they are sometimes known, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute 47% of revenue to the U.K. economy. They have a key role in boosting productivity but need support to expand activities and increase their economic impact.

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Smart companies are not just those that have intelligent leaders. They also have systems, tools and proper planning in place that allow every department or function to run together seamlessly. To become a smart company, you need to integrate smart ideas into every facet of your business. Here are some tips from members of the online small business community.

Manage Your Website Effectively
Your website is one of the most important tools your small business has. To manage it effectively, you need access to the right tools. In this WP Buffs post, Brenda Barron provides a full explanation and walk-through of GoDaddy Pro, so you can see if it may be helpful for your business.

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SBDC Centers offer free consulting and free or low-cost training. (Find yours here.) Their results speak for themselves: SBDC clients grow sales by an average 18.1%, which is 4.3 times the national average. March 20th is SBDC Day, and to celebrate, we assembled some tips from their experts.

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Small businesses can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks than larger companies because they often do not have sophisticated and comprehensive systems to protect themselves from hackers, viruses, malware and whats called ransomware. And owners who are focused on customers and employees may not ensure that their defenses are up to date.

But there are things small businesses can do to improve cybersecurity.

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Whether you are an entrepreneur plotting to launch a startup or a CEO strategizing where to put another office, knowing where the next hot city is would be a game changer. Should you expand to Raleigh? Would you attract better talent in Austin or Atlanta? With the new Surge Cities Index, Inc. and innovation policy company Startup Genome crunched the data to score and rank the top 50 metro areas in the U.S. on seven key indicators–from early-stage funding metrics to job creation. Finally, here’s the smartest way to answer the age-old question: Where should you go next?

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We are creatures of habit. Everything we think, say and do is a result of deep-seated habits etched into our minds through years and years of repitious behavior. Those very same habits either help to propel us forward or to hinder our progress in life. In fact, the state and quality of our lives right now is a direct reflection of our daily habits.

Habits are an undeniably powerful part of life.

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Big companies often have big perks. That is especially true in the technology Opens a New Window.  space, where free meals, gyms, and even day care are quite common. Even more traditional large companies that do not offer those kinds of benefits still have things that smaller businesses Opens a New Window. do not — there are more opportunities for advancement, more training opportunities, and maybe even the option of transferring to another location.

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The latest report from Clutch says 39% of small businesses will add sales and marketing employees.

This data point underscores the importance of sales and marketing in today’s digital commerce. You must optimize websites, social media channels and eCommerce sites to make it happen. And you need sales and marketing employees to do  the heavy lifting.

Some small businesses have already created a digital presence. And the job of sales and marketing generally goes to in-house staff. This job often goes to employees with the necessary skill sets or to someone learning on the job. But remember how important these positions figure in the company’s growth.

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Billing your customers is, of course, vital — but even more critical is getting paid for those bills. Thanks to the ongoing evolution in the payments industry, there are more payment tools and platforms to choose from to help find the perfect option for your business based on how many payments you receive, the type of business you have and your budget.

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Ever wonder how people get chosen to speak at TED? Well, it is curator Chris Andersons job to weed through the thousands upon thousands of possibilities and choose who will appear on the events prestigious main stage. Clearly, the guy is amazing at separating the wheat from the intellectual chaff.

Which is why TED fans (or anyone looking to make themselves smarter and more aware in easily digestible 20-minute chunks) should pay attention to Andersons picks for the 10 best TED talks of 2018. Touching on topics ranging from astronomy to social justice to artificial intelligence, they are guaranteed to change how you think about the world.  

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Switching careers can feel intimidating, but you have got to make some moves if you’re spinning your wheels at your current job. Tech industry jobs are hot right now, and you can make great money once you’ve got the know-how to compete with other tech candidates. Here’s a breakdown of the fields with the best opportunities.

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What is the best retirement plan for a self-employed person? Which is the best retirement plan for a small business owner? More importantly, which is the right retirement plan for you – as a business owner and / or a self-employed individual? Choosing the best retirement plan for you and your personal financial goals will depend on a few factors. Those include how much you can save into a retirement plan, whether or not you have employees and when you are setting up the retirement plan. Is it during the tax year or when filing taxes? To name a few.

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Here are 15 examples of great integrated marketing campaigns that work by combining content, digital and website marketing, with traditional marketing methods like PR.

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Here are three popular things that are actually not mandatory for all small businesses:

1. Aggressive Marketing

It is easy to go overboard with marketing. With so many tools available, your gut instinct is to try anything with the slightest potential. Even if you stand to lose money, you want the assurance of knowing you are doing everything you can to gain the interest of your target audience. And it is difficult to ignore a marketing tool that has worked marvelously for other small businesses. If they had to do it all over again, these businesses would likely spend 10% of their time developing their products or services and 90% marketing them.

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So what sets those who actually take the plunge from those who only dream? What pushes a keen hobbyist or excellent amateur into actually becoming a business owner? A recent study of more than 400,000 people out of MIT came to decisive answer, and it is not the one you are probably expecting.

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Many successful entrepreneurs were inspired to start their businesses after noticing a hole in the marketplace that needed to be filled, whether it was Bill Gates creating an operating system for home computers, Pierre Omidyar starting an online auction site, or Elon Musk building a reliable electric car.

But what happens when you want to jump feet first into a marketplace thats already crowded? We spoke to the entrepreneurs behind a wide-ranging group of successful companies in some of the most competitive digital spaces — from butchers to home brands to eco-friendly cleaning products — to get their insights into what makes a business that lasts.

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Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting their own business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being one they can run out of their own home. The good news: Starting a home-based business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard, as are a plethora of other low-cost ideas.

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Now, I do not want to burst any happy bubbles for those of you who are already treading the traditional pathway, but that traditional narrative no longer makes much sense, because over the past two decades, big corporations, big academia, and big corporatist government have rigged the business world so that the longer you wait to start your own company, the less likely you are to be successful.

Because of this, young entrepreneurs (Mil

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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) included a bevy of changes that will affect the 2018 federal income tax returns of many small and medium-sized businesses and their owners. As tax return time approaches, here are the 10 changes that are most likely to affect your business or you as an owner.

1. New flat 21% tax rate for corporations
Before the TCJA, C corporations paid graduated federal income tax rates of 15%, 25%, 34%, and 35%. Personal service corporations (PSCs) paid a flat 35% rate. For tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond, the TCJA establishes a flat 21% corporate rate, and that beneficial rate applies to PSCs too. So the tax cost of doing business as a profitable C corporation is greatly reduced, and this favorable development will show up on 2018 corporate returns. Enjoy.

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When done correctly, a tagline can become synonymous with a brand. A good tagline should communicate your companys message quickly and effectively, helping your target customers understand how you can help them in a way that’s easy to remember.

Since it is something that will likely appear in all of your companys marketing materials and may stick with you for years, your team should put a lot of care and consideration into crafting your tagline.

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A business plan is a written description of your business future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you have written a plan, or at least the germ of one.

Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities.

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Very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background. Here are four tips to ensure your small business is achieving profitable growth.

Most small business owners start their own business because they have a passion for something, a new idea, want to be their own boss or are seeking more financial stability and/or earning potential. However, very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background.

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The standards for small business success have unquestionably gone up. Todays small businesses must do a lot more to stay competitive than their predecessors. Myriad businesses, however, take this notion a bit too far. Once they discover yet another resource or strategy with the potential to elevate their success, they jump all over it. This is partially due to the many online articles urging business leaders to devote more effort to virtually every element of their businesses.

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Many small businesses start out with a single location or product offering and grow over time. Expanding your business is a good way to increase your long-term profitability and reach a wider audience.

But while growing your venture might be something you’d like to do eventually, now might not be the ideal time to dive in. Here are four reasons you might choose not to grow your business, and instead stick with the status quo.

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New Study Finds People Who Use Marijuana Weigh Less Than Those Who Don’t

The munchies are real but, even stoned, people can choose good food instead of junk food.

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Opinions expressed by Green Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There’s an established mythology very firmly in place when it comes to marijuana and weight: You smoke weed, you get the munchies, you eat stuff that’s usually not the healthiest food in the house, you gain weight.

That’s just a given. So much so that stoner snacks are a focus of Quora topics and popular Google searches. Which makes the findings of a new study somewhat perplexing. It found that those who use marijuana are actually thinner than those who don’t.

Related: How CBD Could Be Used to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Not losing weight but gaining less.

The study, conducted by the University of Michigan, involved a group of study subjects which included both those who used marijuana and those who do not. The results were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Over a three-year period, every participant showed a weight increase. However, “Those who used marijuana had less of an increase compared to those that never used,” said Omayma Alshaarawy, assistant professor of family medicine at Michigan State University and the lead author of the paper, according to Futurity. “Our study builds on mounting evidence that this opposite effect occurs.”

What’s more, the cannabis users in the study were less likely to be obese. Only 15 percent of those who used cannabis were considered obese, compared to 20 percent of those who did not use cannabis.

Related: Marijuana the Feds Allow for Research Is More Like Hemp Than Real-Life Pot

Two-pound difference, on average.

The study found the difference between those who used marijuana and those who did not was, on average, just two pounds. 

The study involved measuring the body mass index of 33,000 people, all over the age of 18. The researchers used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), which was designed to produce a sample that is representative of the United States population.

Two pounds might not seem like much but, again, it runs contrary to the myth. It also went a little way toward clearing up a contradiction in research

According to the study, “pre-clinical studies indicate increased food intake and weight gain as cannabinoid effects.” However, past “cross-sectional epidemiological studies…indicate lower prevalence of obesity among cannabis users.” The cross-sectional studies — which are observational studies that use data analysis of a representative subset of a population at a specific point in time — seem to have been providing a more accurate result.

Does this mean the munchies are not real? No. The munchies are most definitely real. But maybe having healthy food on hand is something marijuana users are doing more than people previously suspected.

Follow dispensaries.com on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news.

Study Finds CBD Oil Helped Dogs Suffering Seizures

The study, while small, is another indication that medical cannabis has veterinary uses.

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Opinions expressed by Green Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A new study involving a small number of animals in Japan has found that cannabidiol (CBD) may offer potential treatment to lessen the severity of epileptic seizures in dogs.

Researchers from the Yamazaki University of Animal Health in Japan conducted the study. The journal Pet Behavior Science published the report. The study found that dogs can respond to CBD in much the same way that humans do.

A CBD-infused oral drug, Epidiolex, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this year for treatment of seizures in humans associated with two severe and rare forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

Knowing the potential for CBD with humans, the study in Japan set out to “investigate the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of CBD” when used as a treatment for dogs suffering from epileptic seizures.

Related: Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: What’s the Difference?

How they conducted the study.

The researchers gave CBD oil to three dogs over a period of eight weeks. Each of the dogs had routinely experienced epileptic seizures. As the report notes, epilepsy is the “most common chronic neurological disorder” found in dogs.

A reduction is seizure intervals was found in two of the dogs. In the third dog, there was no difference.

The three dogs, all males, were:

  • A three-year-old Labrador Retriever who had been suffering seizures since he was about six months old
  • An 11-year-old Papillon who had first started having seizures when he was almost four years old
  • A 10-year-old Chihuahua who first started having seizures when he was three years old

Each was given a “plant-derived formulation” of CBD-containing hemp extract in organic coconut oil. The oil was given twice a day on an empty stomach. The dogs were assessed every two weeks during the eight-week testing period.

RELATED: Was That CBD Gum Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson Chewed During the Masters?

The findings

The Labrador Retriever had only two seizures during the eight weeks. He also had one five days after the treatment was stopped at the end of the eight weeks. He slept more during the day and barked less “even when other dogs were excited,” the owner told researchers.

The Chihuahua had just one seizure during the treatment period. The owner also reported that the Chihuahua showed less “seizure-like behavior” during the attack and showed “less aggression” toward familiar people.

Both the Chihuahua and Labrador Retriever owners felt both dogs showed improvement with CBD treatment.

The Papillon’s owner felt there was no improvement. The dog had eight seizures during the treatment period. The owner did note that the dog ate more willingly and “settled down and slept longer during the day.”

The researchers said that given the small number of dogs, more research is needed. But they write that, “In this study, the seizure frequency improved considerably, and owners reported a positive impression.”

Related: Move Aside, CBD: New Data Finds THC Is the Real Medicine in Medical Marijuana

They also noted that CBD is effective in humans because it lessens anxiety that can trigger an epileptic seizure. Whether that is the case with dogs is unknown, according to the report, and “further research is needed for better understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of CBD.”

To stay up to date on the latest marijuana-related news make sure to like dispensaries.com on Facebook

New Poll Finds Highest Support Ever for Weed Legalization

A majority of Republican voters favor legal marijuana. Sadly, a majority of Republicans in Congress remain opposed.

3 min read

Opinions expressed by Green Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The latest General Social Survey, a widely respected trend survey that has been measuring support for legal marijuana since the 1970s, has found public support for marijuana legalization has reached a new high of 61 percent, with strong support across all age groups and political affiliations.

Following a trend identified by a Gallup poll in 2017, a majority of Republicans — once staunchly opposed to marijuana legalization — now favor legalization, according to the poll, which is administered by the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago. 

The General Social Survey staff found that 54 percent of the Republicans surveyed for the 2018 poll favor legalization. That’s the first time a majority of Republicans favored legalization in a General Social Survey. In 2017, Gallup reported that 51 percent of those surveyed who identify as Republican supported legalization. That was the first time that had occurred in 50 years of Gallup asking about cannabis legalization.

Related: Legalization Stalls In New Jersey Legislature

Overwhelming support from Democrats.

In the new General Social Survey, 76 percent of Democrats said they favor legalization.  

It’s important to note that the General Social Survey did not ask if people favored legalization for recreational or medical marijuana. Republicans have voiced support for medical marijuana — even President Donald Trump spoke in favor of medical marijuana in the 2016 campaign, although he’s flip flopped on the issue since.

Even with that context, support is strong across all age groups. According to the survey results published by AP, marijuana legalization is supported by:

  • 72 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34
  • 64 percent of those between the ages of 35 and 49
  • 57 percent of those between the ages of 50 and 64
  • 46 percent of those 65 and older

Those over 65 are the only age group where a majority is not in favor of legalization, although obviously it’s close. That 46 percent number also is a significant increase over 2014, when only 38 percent favored legalization. At the beginning of the decade in 2010, only 29 percent favored legalization.

Related: The UN Is Moving Toward Ending Decades of International Cannabis Prohibition

What next?

Clearly, the new poll shows that the trend toward Americans supporting legalization, at least for medical marijuana, is strong among people of all ages and political persuasions, an amazing evolution since 1973, when only 19 percent of all people surveyed supported legalization in the General Social Survey.

Nonetheless, marijuana remains a Schedule I illegal drug at the federal level, along with heroin and cocaine. Justin Strekal, political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, told AP that the survey results are a clear indication Americans are ready for legal marijuana at the national level (as was done last year in Canada).

“Our time has come,” he said. “Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition.”

Congress already is considering national legalization, although with a Republican-controlled Senate, passage seems unlikely. Legalization also will likely become an issue in the 2020 presidential election as most Democrats in the race favor making cannabis legal at the federal level.

Follow dispensaries.com on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news.

Uh Oh! Small Business Optimism Fading, Report Finds

The ebb and flow of the economy and its cyclical nature means there will be good and bad times. With such a strong economy in the last couple of years, it was inevitable that the record-high small business optimism would eventually start fading.

Spring 2019 Paychex Business Sentiment Report

According to the latest Paychex Business Sentiment Report, business owners’ optimism has gone down in several areas since October 2018. Owners said business outlook, ability to fill open positions, and ability to raise wages are trending on the downside.

The report comes from 500 randomly selected business owners surveyed between February 15 and 26. Participants were polled on topics impacting their profitability and prospects for growth.

They were asked to rate their optimism on a scale of 1-100. One would represent the highest level of pessimism and 100 the peak of optimism.

As the third installment of the Paychex Business Sentiment Report, overall business owner sentiment is still optimistic. But as Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO, pointed out in the press release for the report there is a decline compared to the last report.

Mucci said, “The decline seen in these latest results are primarily around hiring and the ability to raise wages.”

He added, “This is the lowest level of confidence in employers’ ability to fill openings with qualified workers that we’ve seen since starting the Business Sentiment Report in July of last year. While jobs growth remains steady, business owners are still having a hard time finding candidates with the right skill sets to meet their needs in today’s tight labor market.”

The Tight Labor Market

The ability to fill open positions is getting harder because of the tight labor market. Unemployment levels are historically low, which makes it a job seekers market at the moment.

In the survey, the optimism level in finding the right qualified candidate is down by 8 points to 43/100. But overall small businesses are finding it less challenging to find talent.

Only 10% of companies with 1-19 employees said it was very challenging, while 23% with 20-99 employees and 40% with 100-500 employees said the same.

Wage Disparity

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for February 2019, wages are up. Although it is only 3.2% over the last 12 months, the numbers are better than the stagnant wage growth over the past decade.

The problem mirrors the results in the Paychex report as the ability to raise wages is down 10 points to 41/100.  A further breakdown of the data reveals rural areas have it much harder when it comes to raising wages.

Urban regions in the US said their outlook was 49/100 in their ability to raise wages, while rural parts of the country it went down to a low 15/100.

Overall Optimism

The overall optimism in the US economy is positive when you remove the ability to raise wages and finding qualified talent.

In this report, the number is 72/100, which is up from the fall of 2018 when it was 65/100.

The economic outlook is brighter for large organizations. Businesses with 1-19 employees said their optimism level was 62/100, while those with 20-99 workers said 71/100. Companies with a workforce of 100-500 people were the most optimistic at 75/100.

Here is an infographic with some data points.

Spring 2019 Paychex Business Sentiment Report

Image: Depositphotos.com

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