Get Started: Business is good, but hiring isn't

NEW YORK (AP) — BUSINESS IS GOOD, BUT HIRING ISN'T

Small businesses are generally on track as far as their finances go, but that's not encouraging owners to hire, according to a new survey.

Sixty percent of the owners in the survey released by TD Bank said their companies are performing as expected for 2013. The survey questioned 604 small business owners from Maine to Florida, where TD Bank has branches.

But only 17 percent of the owners said they plan to hire this year. That's down from 32 percent who said they were planning to hire in a survey six months ago. Of those who don't plan to hire, 68 percent said they still wouldn't take on new staffers even if circumstances made it possible for them to do so. Nearly half said they are worried there wouldn't be enough work for them to do and they are also dealing with lower sales.

The survey is in line with others taken since late 2012 that show business owners are optimistic about how their companies will do this year, but aren't willing to hire or make big financial commitments. They're uncertain about the economy, and are also waiting to see the financial impact on their companies of the health care law when it's fully implemented starting Jan. 1.

"Business owners are telling us they want to grow and expand, but they aren't ready to hire yet," says Jay DesMarteau, head of small business banking at TD Bank.

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POLICIES LEAVE SOME FIRMS AT DISADVANTAGE

Government policies and programs tend to favor traditional small businesses, leaving more innovative companies at a disadvantage, according to a study released by the Kauffman Foundation.

The study written by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the government's approach threatens to undermine the success of startup companies that have the potential of creating hundreds or thousands of jobs.

The roots of the problem are in the fact that traditional companies like retailers and established small manufacturers tend to hire workers more quickly in the markets where they're located— for example, when a new store opens. But these companies are likely to hire far fewer over the long term than innovative companies whose products or services can have a global reach.

The government needs to focus on innovative as well as traditional firms, says Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and a co-author of the study.

"We need to recognize that they require a different skill set, and that it's not just 'one size fits all,'" he says.

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SMALL BUSINESS HEARINGS

House committee hearings this week will focus on two important small business issues: regulations and health care.

The House Small Business Committee holds a hearing Wednesday to discuss whether the burden of federal regulations on small businesses has been reduced.

The House Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology meets Thursday to discuss the impact on small companies of an annual fee that health insurers will be charged by the government. The fee is required under the Affordable Care Act.

More information about the hearings is available at http://smallbusiness.house.gov/calendar

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Follow Joyce Rosenberg on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg

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