SMBs report regions and industries where they plan to hire in the first quarter 2014

Atlanta, GA – January 22, 2014
Click here for the PDF version.

Job seekers looking to work for a small to mid-sized business (SMB) should seek out employment in the Southeast and West/Southwest regions of the United States, according to a new report released today by Lucas Group, North America’s premier executive search firm. Lucas Group’s fourth national survey, the Q4 SMB Job Generation Outlook, surveyed 400 SMB leaders from across the country.

For the past year, the Lucas Group has gathered insights from SMB leaders on their current and future hiring plans; confidence in the national economy as well as in their own companies; challenges their businesses face; and the impact the government has on their growth plans.

In the fourth quarter, respondents from the Southeast made up the highest percentage of those looking to hire in first quarter 2014. Almost half said they plan to hire, and in the West/Southwest region, 46.1 percent of respondents said they would. All other regions reported lower hiring expectations, including the Midwest/Great Plains at 39.6 percent, followed by the Northeast at 36.4 percent and the Mid-Atlantic at 33.3 percent. Nationwide, 42 percent of respondents reported planning to hire in the beginning of 2014.

“More than 80 percent of SMB leaders in the Southeast reported that they agreed their companies were job generators for the U.S. economy,” said Scott Smith, Chief Marketing Officer at Lucas Group. “Small and mid-sized businesses in the Southeast expressed confidence in their company’s position to add jobs.”

Job seekers with a background in consumer services should have an easier time finding employment. More than 78 percent of respondents in that industry said they plan to hire in first quarter 2014. The automotive industry was second in terms of hiring, with 66.7 percent of respondents planning to hire. Information technology was third at 62.1 percent.

Even though they’re hiring, small and mid-sized businesses feel more optimistic about their own companies than they do about the overall U.S. economy. Nationwide, 51 percent of SMB leaders reported being somewhat or very optimistic about job growth prospects for their companies, contrasted with only 38 percent who reported similar optimism about overall U.S. job prospects.

Companies are also experiencing difficulty in finding employees to hire. “Although national unemployment rates may suggest there’s available talent in the market, almost 60 percent of respondents nationwide report difficulty or extreme difficulty in finding qualified professional and management talent for open positions,” Smith said.

Other highlights from the Q4 SMB Job Generation Outlook include:
• Nearly 70 percent anticipate the Affordable Care Act will have a moderate to large impact on their businesses.
• Fifty-four percent of respondents expect to see a knowledge gap in their businesses created by the retirement of Baby Boomers.
• Only 13 percent of respondents feel somewhat or very optimistic about bipartisanship in the federal government.

Additional insights from SMB presidents, CEOs and business owners can be found in the full Q4 SMB Job Generation Outlook here. The SMB Job Generation Outlook has been produced quarterly for the past year to provide a look at hiring and economic trends among small and mid-sized businesses in the United States. This study was conducted in coordination with Polaris Marketing Research and Dr. Goutam Challagalla, Associate Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology College of Business.

About the Survey

Conducted quarterly, the SMB Job Generation Outlook is a national survey of SMB top business leaders. The Q3 survey was conducted by Polaris Market Research on behalf of Lucas Group from Oct. 1-Oct. 11, 2013. Each of the 100 respondents was a CEO, 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-six percent of the respondents reported annual revenue in the $50 to $150 million range. The majority of respondents (58 percent) are from private companies; 19 percent are family-owned; 16 percent are public; 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 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.