Lucas Group Survey Reveals U.S. Small to Mid-Sized Businesses Plan to Hire

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Increasing number of SMBs report difficulties in finding and recruiting qualified talent.

Lucas Group

SMBs play a significant role in the U.S. economy, and their actions – particularly related to hiring or downsizing – impact the overall health and vitality of our country.

Labeled the “backbone of our economy” by President Obama, the nation’s small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) plan to hire more employees over the next year, a positive sign of the U.S. economy’s continuing economic recovery.

Yet those same companies are encountering a growing challenge that may hinder their expansion plans – increasing difficulty in finding and hiring qualified professional candidates to fill key business roles.

This clash of talent supply and demand is among the findings of the latest quarterly SMB Job Generation Outlook by Lucas Group, North America’s premier executive search firm. Lucas Group surveyed 400 SMB executives from various industries and geographic regions on their economic outlook, top challenges and hiring plans.

“SMBs play a significant role in the U.S. economy, and their actions – particularly related to hiring or downsizing – impact the overall health and vitality of our country,” said Scott Smith, Chief Marketing Officer at Lucas Group. “By focusing on executive-level leaders across the country, our SMB Job Generation Outlook serves as an insightful tool to measure how small to mid-sized businesses are faring in the current economy and to gauge what they see ahead, for themselves and the nation.”

The good news for the economy is that 57 percent of SMB leaders said they plan to hire additional employees in the next 12 months, up from 41 percent a year ago. A full 69 percent of those surveyed said they feel very or somewhat optimistic about economic prospects for their company in the next quarter. Consistent with survey findings from the past 18 months, optimism levels weaken when leaders are asked about national prospects and only half reported feeling optimistic about economic prospects for the overall U.S. economy.

The challenging news, however, is that 64 percent of SMB leaders said it is difficult or extremely difficult to find qualified candidates for open professional and management positions, the most in the survey’s history. This was especially true for positions in sales, information technology and manufacturing management. SMBs also report increasing concern regarding forthcoming Baby Boomer retirements, with a survey high of 71 percent expecting to experience business impacts related to workforce retirements.

This concurrence helps explain why respondents, when asked to rank the top challenges their businesses face in the next quarter, ranked talent availability second only to health care costs. After talent availability, SMB leaders ranked their other leading challenges as, in order, competition, uncertainty in tax policy and environmental regulation.

The Q2 SMB Job Generation Outlook was conducted by Lucas Group in coordination with Polaris Marketing Research and Dr. Goutam Challagalla, Associate Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Business. For the full Q2 SMB Job Generation Outlook, click here.

About the Survey
Conducted quarterly, the SMB Job Generation Outlook is a national survey of SMB top business leaders. The Q2 survey was conducted by Polaris Market Research on behalf of Lucas Group from June 10-June 27, 2014. Each of the 400 respondents was a CEO, CFO, COO, chairman, president, executive vice president and/or owner of their company. The survey covered a wide variety of industries with manufacturing, finance/insurance/real estate and business services having the strongest presence. Forty-three percent of the respondents reported annual revenue in the $50 to $150 million range.

About Lucas Group
Lucas Group is North America’s premier executive search firm. Since 1970, our culture and methodologies have driven superior results. We assist clients ranging in size from small to medium-sized businesses to Fortune 500 companies find transcendent, executive talent; candidates fully realize their ambitions; and associates find professional success. To learn more, please visit Lucas Group at and connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Alicia Deedy
Lucas Group
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