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It’s been the biggest problem of the recession — small business owners aren’t doing much hiring. That started to turn around last year, but a new Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index poll shows there is now big pent-up demand for workers.

In the study, more than half of entrepreneurs said they hired new workers last year. But more tellingly, among those who added staff, 42 percent reported hiring fewer workers than they really needed.

What does it mean? It appears we’re at an inflection point.

Business is picking up as the recession frost finally thaws, but owners are still scared to make a hiring commitment. Asked to list all their reasons for not hiring, nearly 80 percent of respondents said they feared sales wouldn’t justify more hiring. Another issue: 70 percent said they’ve got cash-flow or payroll problems.

Really fascinating note for the unemployed: 62 percent of the owners surveyed said they couldn’t find qualified people to fill positions. More than half were worried about healthcare costs, too. Read the rest of this entry »

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