SMB Opposition to Minimum Wage Increase; Mixed Opinions on Immigration

Atlanta, GA – May 8, 2013
Click here for the PDF version.

Lucas Group, North America’s premier executive search firm, released the results of its second national survey of small and mid-sized business (SMB) presidents, CEOs and business owners today. Among the highlights of the Q2 SMB Job Generation Outlook were a notable increase in optimism related to the state of the U.S. economy and national jobs growth; a clear intention to increase SMB hiring over the next 12 months; revealed opposition to a proposed increase in the federal minimum wage; and varied opinions on immigration reform.

National-level optimism has grown substantially in the past quarter. According to the Lucas Group Q2 survey, 54 percent of respondents are somewhat or very optimistic about the overall U.S. economy, as compared to only 37 percent in Q1. Optimism regarding national jobs growth witnessed a 19-point increase over Q1, with 47 percent now reporting being somewhat or very optimistic.

Company-specific optimism also grew, albeit at lesser rates.
• 71 percent of SMBs report being optimistic about their own companies’ economic prospects, up from 64 percent in Q1.
• Near 85 percent agree with the statement that SMBs are the job generators of the U.S economy.
• 53 percent of SMBs plan to hire new employees in the coming quarter and 61 percent plan to hire in the next 12 months.

“SMB leaders are important participants in communities across the country and their opinions matter to policy leaders at the local, state and federal levels,” said Scott Smith, Chief Marketing Officer of Lucas Group. “The second quarter results show that they continue to believe that their companies will prosper, that they are driving job generation in the U.S., and that the nation’s economy will continue to improve. ”

The challenge of finding top talent in the marketplace remains problematic for SMB leaders. While those who said that finding qualified candidates was “easy” increased from 6 percent in Q1 to 13 percent in Q2, the percentage who rated it “extremely difficult” increased from 5 percent to 11 percent in the same period. Overall, the Q2 SMB Job Generation Outlook found that 60 percent of SMBs are having problems finding qualified candidates for their open professional and managerial positions.

“Our second quarter survey underscores the substantial impact of federal policy on small and mid-sized business prosperity. These SMB leaders are concerned about the impact of a minimum wage increase and the implementation of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. In many ways,” said Smith, “these SMB leaders represent where Washington meets Main Street.”

Overall economic optimism has risen among SMB leaders, yet several business and political issues remain divisive. On the issue of healthcare, 61 percent believe that the implementation of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act will adversely impact them, down from the 68 percent in Q1.
A new survey question for the second quarter queried respondents’ thoughts around President Obama’s State of the Union call for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The proposal was not warmly received by the surveyed SMB leaders. If passed:

• 34 percent will either reduce planned new hiring or eliminate all new hiring
• 29 percent plan to increase their prices
• 7 percent will not remain in business

U.S. immigration policies also generate a mixed response from SMB leaders. More than half of the respondents favor easing immigration requirements for skilled workers in high demand fields. But they are less supportive of easing immigration for everyone. Slightly less than half (48 percent) don’t believe that the U.S. should ease immigration requirements for all people and 44 percent don’t want immigration eased for only those currently living illegally in the U.S.

Conducted in coordination with Polaris Marketing Research and Dr. Goutam Challagalla, Associate Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology College of Business, the SMB Job Generation Outlook is a quarterly encapsulation of hiring and economic trends among the nation’s small and mid-sized businesses. Founded 43 years ago with the mission to help U.S. military veterans find rewarding civilian careers, Lucas Group today is home to nine professional practice groups and several hundred executive recruiters across the nation. From HR and Accounting to IT and Marketing, Lucas Group serves as the expert workplace and workforce conduit to American businesses across a variety of industries.

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 March 7-27, 2013. Each of the 101 respondents was a CEO, President, and/or owner of their company. The survey covered a wide variety of industries with financial services, real estate, and manufacturing with the strongest presence. Almost half of the respondents reported annual revenue in the $50 – $500 million range. The majority of the respondents (68 percent) are from private companies; 17 percent are public; 8 percent are family-owned; and 7 percent are owned by private equity.

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 mid-tier to Fortune 500 Clients find transcendent, executive talent; Candidates fully realize their career ambitions; and associates find professional success. To learn more, please visit Lucas Group at and connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.